Cancer Immunotherapy Program

The Foundation has identified cancer immunotherapy as a key area where focused ultrasound could improve clinical outcomes for many patients.

NCI immunomodulationThe 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.

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