Focused ultrasound and microbubbles for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease dementia

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Rikke Hahn Kofoed


Postdoctoral Fellow


Sunnybrook Research Institute


DKK 1,313,500




Reintegration Fellowships


My research focuses on finding new ways to hinder the pathological changes that happens in the brain when patients with Parkinson’s disease develop dementia. The changes cannot be traced back to a single biological process. Instead, several pathological mechanisms together contribute to the development of dementia. However, current clinical trials are largely limited to only target one aspect of the disease at a time. This may explain the lack of successful breakthroughs for the treatment of both Parkinson’s disease and the associated dementia.


Parkinson’s disease is commonly known for its motor symptoms such as slowed gait, difficulty initiating movement, and, for some patients, tremor. However, over half of the patients also develop dementia within 20 years of diagnosis. The combination of motor symptoms and dementia complicates the disease and increases patient suffering as well as cost of care. Symptomatic treatment of the motor symptoms can be achieved to some extend with current clinical practices, but very few and insufficient options are available to target the dementia.


I will use non-invasive focused ultrasound combined with microbubbles. The ultrasound can painlessly pass through the skull and the microbubbles have been used for decades as an ultrasound contrast agent. The technology allows modulation of the brain, without having to perform invasive brain surgery. In addition, the technology have previously been used to successfully treat animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Importantly, the treatment targets several pathological mechanisms simultaneously. Based on this, the treatment is now tested in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Using a mouse model with Parkinson’s disease that also develops signs of dementia, I will determine if this novel ultrasound treatment has the potential to also positively change the mechanisms that are leading to dementia in Parkinson’s disease. My goal of the project is to provide the first data on how ultrasound treatment can be used to hinder the development of dementia in Parkinson’s disease. I hope that my research can provide the basic scientific knowledge needed to translate ultrasound treatment to the clinic for Parkinson’s disease patients.

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