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Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute Researchers Looking for Alzheimer’s Candidates

They continue to conduct ground-breaking studies using focused ultrasound and magnetic stimulation

Researchers at West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute are looking for more Alzheimer’s patients to take part in clinical trials involving ultrasound and virtual reality.

Requirements for the ultrasound studies are more stringent and exclusive than those for the virtual reality, or magnetic stimulation, tests.

“We’re looking for early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, so there is very specific criteria,” Ali Rezai, M.D., neurosurgeon and director of the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, told WVNews. “We’ve had many, many people who have contacted us for the ultrasound study, but only a few passed the initial screening criteria.”

The virtual reality study, on the other hand, features broader specifications, Rezai said, “so that one will be much easier to get into.”

About a year ago, the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute reported successful phase II ultrasound trial results. That’s when investigators opened the blood-brain barrier using technology from Israeli company INSIGHTEC. The procedure requires no incisions or pharmaceuticals because it relies on sound waves. It works when doctors inject microscopic bubbles into the patient’s bloodstream and expose those bubbles to focused ultrasound. The bubbles then temporarily open the blood-brain barrier in the brain area being targeted.

Researchers are hopeful the new treatment is leading the way toward treating Alzheimer’s, which so far has no known cure. They continue to evaluate whether focused ultrasound reduces the debilitating plaques and cognitive decline that signify Alzheimer’s. It will take several years before experts fully understand whether focused ultrasound will have a permanent place in Alzheimer’s therapy.

People interested in learning more about participating in the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute’s Alzheimer’s studies will want to call 304-293-5150 or email Only the personnel directly involved with the research will be privy to patient information.

The WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute research team poses with the first-ever Alzheimer's focused ultrasound patient moments after the procedure is complete in October 2018. Photo by WVU Medicine.

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