Researchers Invent Revolutionary Non-Invasive Brain Surgery

Researchers Invent Revolutionary Non-Invasive Brain Surgery

The noninvasive alternative to traditional brain surgery requires no incisions, nor scalpels, yet precisely edits away problematic cells which cause disease whilst ensuring healthy neurological architecture remains intact.

University of Virginia School of Medicine has invented a revolutionary noninvasive alternative to traditional brain surgery, termed PING, that precisely removes faulty brain circuits 

which cause disease, whilst ensuring healthy neurological architecture remains intact.

It uses low-intensity focused ultrasound waves similarly to an MRI, combined with microbubbles to briefly penetrate the brain’s natural defenses and allow the targeted delivery of a neurotoxin a poison which acts on the nervous system. This neurotoxin kills the culprit brain cells while sparing other healthy cells and preserving the surrounding brain architecture.

“This unique approach eliminates the diseased brain cells, spares adjacent healthy cells and achieves these outcomes without even having to cut into the scalp,” said  researcher Kevin S. Lee, PhD, who worked on this project.

Some of the world’s most complex neurological diseases could be treated using this technique, including epilepsy. During their study, researchers found that it reduced or eliminated seizures in two research models. 

Focused ultrasound has already approved to treat essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease and it is now being researched for potential applications in other conditions, such as breast cancer and glioblastoma.

The release says that a key advantage of this approach is its precision because of how PING harnesses magnetic-resonance imaging to let scientists see inside the patient’s skull and guide the sound waves exactly where they are needed.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, concludes that this highly specific targeted treatment could revolutionize neurological treatment. Another huge advantage is how it can access parts of the brain that would be impossible with traditional surgery. In the paper, the group writes: “If this strategy translates to the clinic, the noninvasive nature and specificity of the procedure could positively influence both physician referrals for and patient confidence in surgery for medically intractable neurological disorders.”

An application to patent the procedure has been submitted. 

“Our hope is that the PING strategy will become a key element in the next generation of very precise, noninvasive, neurosurgical approaches to treat major neurological disorders,” Lee concluded.