A pathway to curing essential tremor

3 May 2023
Ultrasound waves used to destroy regions of the brain responsible for tremors

Researchers at The Brain and Mind Centre are closer to treating essential tremor using MRgFUS.

Essential tremor is a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary shaking or trembling in the body, usually the head and hands.

MRgFUS is a minimally invasive treatment option that reduces tremor severity by applying precisely directed ultrasound waves to destroy tissue in the brain's ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus by thermal necrosis.

The integration of focused ultrasound (FUS) with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MR thermometry, allows the treating surgeons to target tissue with submillimeter accuracy.  

“Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) is a promising incisionless treatment option for essential tremor,” said Kain Kyle, GE Medical Physics PhD scholarship recipient, and PhD candidate at the computation neuroimaging research team at the Brain and Mind Centre.  

In a recent study, researchers found that increased destruction of tissue in the posterior region of the dentatorubrothalamic tract (DRTT) could lead to significant improvements in treatment outcome for essential tremor.

The study, released in the medical journnal Frontiers, was part of the Brain and Mind Centre's partnership program, bringing together researchers from the University of Sydney, General Electric Healthcare, Sydney Neuroimaging Analysis Centre (SNAC) and St Vincent's Hospital. 

The consistency of the skull density ratio (SDR), a key metric used to evaluate the permeability of the skull to ultrasound waves, was also found to be a significant predictor of tremor suppression.

Chenyu Wang

Dr Chenyu Wang

These findings could have significant implications for clinicians, in helping them improve patient screening and treatment strategies for tremor suppression in movement disorders.

Lead authors Kain Kyle and Dr Chenyu Wang state in their study that, MRgFUS is a promising non-invasive treatment option for essential tremor, and imaging researchers are making progress in identifying patient-specific factors that can improve its efficacy.

We believe this technology could offer an effective pathway to suppressing tremors in movement disorders. We’re optimistic that our future research will help to optimise the MRgFUS treatment to these conditions.
Doctor Chenyu Wang

The Brain and Mind Centre partnership program fosters new, growing and existing collaborations between researchers and industry partners. SNAC, St Vincent’s Hospital and General Electric partnered with the computational neuroimaging research team in working towards the identification and validation of new biomarkers derived from structural connectomes relating to movement disorders.

Lead authors: Kain Kyle and Dr Chenyu Wang

Other authors: Professor Michael BarnettProfessor Fernando Calamante,  Jerome Maller, Yael Barnett , Benjamin Jonker, Arkiev D'Souza,  Joel Maamary, James Peters and Stephen Tisch.

Chenyu Tim Wang

Nerve Research Foundation Fellow, Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia Fellow
  • 88 Mallett Street Camperdown NSW 2050 Mallett Street Campus M02F

Related articles