Cancer Immunotherapy Program
The Foundation has identified cancer immunotherapy as a key area where focused ultrasound could improve clinical outcomes for many patients.
The field of cancer immunotherapy is progressing rapidly with several new agents approved by the FDA just this year. Most exciting are checkpoint inhibitors that “take the brakes off” the immune response and enable a stronger anti-tumor immune response. Despite their demonstrated benefits, these therapies are effective in only 20-40% of patients. These drugs may be more effective in patients with a better baseline immune response prior to treatment. This baseline can be improved by radiation or other ablative therapies like focused ultrasound.
Ablative therapies – radiation, radiofrequency, cryoablation, laser, and focused ultrasound – have demonstrated the ability to stimulate an immune response in preclinical and clinical studies. In addition, these therapies have been successful when used in combination with immunotherapy, by inducing an initial immune response that immunotherapy can then enhance.
Focused ultrasound could potentially enhance the effects of immunotherapy. Given its non-invasiveness, use of non-ionizing radiation, and ability for precise ablation throughout the body with no dose limitations, focused ultrasound could be more appealing for this combination therapy than other ablative modalities.
To understand the true potential for focused ultrasound immunomodulation in cancer therapy, the Foundation has developed a dedicated program to support the following, as defined by participants at the first FUS for cancer immunotherapy workshop:
- Preclinical: Compare immune responses induced by different modes of focused ultrasound
- Preclinical: Evaluate the efficacy of focused ultrasound work to assess focused ultrasound in combination with immunotherapies
- Clinical: Measure focused ultrasound induced immune responses during existing clinical oncology trials
The Foundation encourages applications for funding collaborative projects in this field. FUSF will also lead efforts to promote further awareness of this field with other potential funding organizations and seek co-funding opportunities to support collaborative projects. FUSF also intends to coordinate smaller group meetings, with the inclusion of clinical experts, to further define roadmaps for specific clinical indications. A working group of investigators in the field has been established to enable more effective communication and collaboration on study design as the field progresses.
For more information or to discuss collaborations on the topic of cancer immunotherapy, please contact our Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD.
Apply Now: Foundation and CRI Partner to Fund FUS + Immunotherapy Projects
In June 2017, the Foundation partnered with the Cancer Research Institute to advance the development of new focused ultrasound (FUS) and cancer immunotherapy treatments. As a key component of that partnership, we have established a grant program to jointly fund research projects that address critical unanswered questions that will help move the field toward new focused ultrasound and cancer immunotherapy combination treatments. This first request for proposals seeks pre-clinical projects relating to how different “modes” of focused ultrasound compare in terms of the immune response generated, and how this immune response correlates with biological, acoustic, and imaging metrics. Learn more and apply for funding >
- On January 17, 2017, Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, PhD, from the Cancer Research Institute gave a webinar titled "Immunotherapy: Revolutionizing Cancer Treatment" View the recording >
- State of the Field: Focused Ultrasound Immunotherapy (October 2016)
- Immunotherapy Summit Summary (October 2016)
- On March 18, 2015, Tim Bullock, PhD, from the University of Virginia presented a webinar, "Cancer Immunotherapy: Opportunities and Barriers." View the slides >