An estimated 5.8 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer's. Here in our home state of Florida, we have the country's second-highest incidence of this debilitating disease. As a neurosurgeon at Broward Health, I am all too familiar with patients suffering from the devastating effects of Alzheimer's with little to no hope for improvement. There is currently no cure, and treatments have focused primarily on managing the symptoms associated with the disease – until now.
This summer, Broward Health, in an unprecedented partnership with University of Florida Health and Insightec, will be the first health system in the state to participate in a clinical trial that aims to slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis and other leaders who saw the need in our state and sought a solution, we have an extraordinary medical opportunity that has the potential to transform how we care for patients affected by Alzheimer's disease today and in years to come.
Alzheimer's disease is caused by a buildup of proteins, or plaque, in the brain. The technique we are testing in this trial is unique – and revolutionary – because it is non-invasive and does not involve pharmaceuticals. Instead, it uses MRI-guided focused ultrasound to temporarily create an opening in the blood-brain barrier, allowing plaque to clear from the brain. We are hopeful this could improve Alzheimer's patients' behavioral and cognition measurements, leading to an enhanced quality of life.
Insightec has used this same approved technology to treat some patients with essential tremor and Parkinson's with impressive results and is exploring many neurologic diseases in which there may be benefits as well. The remarkable clinical results in some of these diseases, combined with robust research and supporting data in Alzheimer's, give us optimism for our patients.
This medical innovation – focused ultrasound – has the potential to control the disease earlier, giving the medical community, patients and their families, both here in Florida and around the world, the hope of treatment of this debilitating disease.
I hope a true reversal and cure for Alzheimer's is on the horizon. In the meantime, I'm proud to be part of Broward Health as we embark on this critical step forward.