Research Published September 22 2010
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Will it soon be possible to treat brain tumours or epilepsy with ultrasound?


“Until now, it was impossible to remove a brain tumour and even less to fine-tune the activity of a neuronal circuit in the brain without opening the skull. In some very particular cases, it is possible to destroy a tumour with x-rays (gamma knife) but the method is limited. As to the insertion of electrodes in the deep parts of the brain, for instance in some cases of Parkinson’s disease, this cannot be done without trepanation.
This may no longer be the case in a couple of years, following the discoveries made by the theoretical physics team at the Institut Langevin in Paris, renowned for its expertise in the field of ultrasound. By inventing a new concept of “temporal reversal” the authors have achieved results sufficient to think that it is possible to destroy a tumour or modify the activity of a neuronal circuit by extracranial means. Drawing on this sensational discovery, Mathias Fink, Mickael Tanter, Jean-François Aubry and their colleagues have decided to begin cooperation with neurosurgeons and neurologists at the Salpêtrière hospital within the Institut du Cerveau – ICM (Anne-Laure Bocq, Carine Karachi, Michel Baulac, Marie-Laure Welter and many others). A company specialising in the medical use of ultrasound (Supersonic Imagine) is considering joining the incubator at the Institut du Cerveau – ICM so as to accelerate the transition from scientific results to therapeutics in humans. The conditions that could benefit from these breakthroughs are on one hand brain tumours and on the other epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease or even some serious psychiatric illnesses which resist all other treatments. All these are diseases whose symptoms may improve or disappear by activating well-defined neuronal circuits.”


Professor Yves Agid