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New ultrasound Alzheimer's treatment to clinical trial in humans by end of 2017?
Millions of people worldwide are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, a neurological disease that breaks down brain functions, eventually leading to death. Alzheimer's is most prevalent in older people, with the risk of developing the disease doubling every five years after age 65.
The main culprits identified by scientists are called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Both are dense, sticky masses that cluster and interfere with neuron function. Existing medications for Alzheimer's disease attempt to treat the symptoms and stave off further damage – in both cases the effect is modest. There is no current cure.
In 2015, an Australian team published the results of a study showing that focused ultrasound waves restored memory function in mice whose brains contained Alzheimer's-type plaques. The sound waves opened up the blood-brain barrier and activated cells that typically clean up cellular wastes. The cells, called microglia, cleared away the plaques, restoring memory function in 75 percent of the mice, with no apparent detrimental effects. The team hopes to begin human trials of the non-invasive treatment in 2017.
Will an ultrasound-based Alzheimer's treatment begin clinical trials in humans in 2017?
For this question to resolve as positive, the Australian clinical trial registry must report the commencement of a trial using scanning ultrasound to clear amyloid plaques and/or neurofibrillary tangles in humans on or before December 31, 2017.
Metaculus help: Predicting
Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.
The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available. With tachyons you'll even be able to go back in time and backdate your prediction to maximize your points.
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When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.