A new type of MRI could be used to generate tailored electromagnetic waveforms. (Credit: Pixabay/kalhh)

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in mice and to safely deliver drugs using pulsed magnetic fields with tailored waveforms. This work spurs development of a new class of noninvasive image-guided devices capable of safely treating many mental health and neurological disorders.

The new type of MRI — composed of electro-permanent magnets — could be used to generate tailored electromagnetic waveforms, some of which were much more effective at opening the BBB than others. As in a CT scanner, the selective electromagnetic waveforms could be applied from multiple sources to focally deliver drugs to specific regions of the brain.

The same device could also use magnetic pulses to help regrow neurons (plasticity), as is being done with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The new device would allow psychiatrists and neurologists to treat diseased or underdeveloped brain tracts without causing unwanted side effects. Potential disorders to be treated could include addiction, autism, depression, neuropathic pain, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases.

Using an office-based human-sized version of this non-invasive device, it may prove possible to cure Alzheimer’s by delivering drugs and genes to specified tracts in the brain under real-time imaging guidance.

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