Brain implant delivers ultrasonic waves to brain treating cancer, Alzheimer’s

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A recent study published in Advanced Healthcare Materials outlines a new ceramic skull implant capable of delivering ultrasound treatments.

Ultrasonic waves can treat many types of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They can also be used to combat brain cancer and dissolve blood clots following stroke. These waves, while showing such potential, remain unable to pass through the two to eight mm thick skull wall.

Led by Guillermo Aguilar, professor and chair of mechanical engineering in University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering, and Javier E. Garay, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, the team developed a ceramic implant that allows for ultrasound to pass into the brain. The biocompatible and shatter-proof material makes the implant viable and safe for implantation. In testing, physicians were able to deliver therapeutic sound waves to the brain both on demand and in a routine.

"These materials are already being used in dental crowns and hip replacements, and our team is working to extend their application to the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of brain pathologies and neurological disorders," Aguilar said. "Developing an optically and radio-frequency transparent cranial implant was already an exciting accomplishment, and we continue to work to make this implant a reality. Now, proving that ultrasound could be transmitted through the implant could expand its therapeutic capabilities even further."