Research News

  • First Patient Enrolled in Trial for Bilateral Treatment of Essential Tremor

    Researchers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London recently announced that they had completed treatment of the first patient in a clinical trial using staged bilateral focused ultrasound to treat medication-refractory essential tremor (ET).

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  • 2019 First Quarter Research Award

    The Foundation’s External Awards Program has selected a new project to fund in the first quarter of 2019. John Eisenbrey, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology at Thomas Jefferson University, will lead a study titled, “Microbubble cavitation sensitization of hepatocellular carcinoma to radioembolization therapy.”

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  • Research Update – Mapping Histotripsy through the Skull

    A Foundation-funded project at the University of Michigan was recently completed. Jonathan Sukovich, PhD, sought to develop advanced methods for real-time monitoring and localization of histotripsy-generated bubble clouds during transcranial treatment.

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  • Research Site Profile: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

    Imperial College Healthcare National Health Service (NHS) Trust is the largest teaching and research trust in the United Kingdom. It includesfive hospitals in London: Charing Cross Hospital, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Western Eye Hospital.

    NHS foundation trusts are not-for-profit, public benefit corporations that provide over half of all NHS hospital, mental health, and ambulance services in the United Kingdom. NHS foundation trusts were created to devolve decision making from central government to local organizations and communities. Read about Imperial Healthcare Trust.

    Imperial College Healthcare’s focused ultrasound facilities are located solely within the Department of Radiology at St. Mary’s Hospital. Professor Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD, Consultant Radiologist, first brought focused ultrasound to St. Mary’s in 2000 after recognizing that it was an important emerging technology for image-guided MR therapy and a natural extension of the work that was already being done there.

    We interviewed Prof. Gedroyc to learn more about the program that he created and how it continues to expand. Read the following Q&A to learn about the past and see this visionary’s concept for the future, which includes exciting new neurological research that is now underway.

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  • Now Accepting Applications for Global Internships

    Each year, the Foundation’s Global Internship Program offers students who are interested in focused ultrasound the opportunity to work with esteemed mentors in the field.

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  • Modeling Charts Clinical Path for Liver Cancer Trial

    A companion paper illustrating the clinical significance and utility of a 2018 focused ultrasound plus ThermoDox liver cancer trial has now been published in the journal Radiology. Accompanied by an editorial from Dr. Kevin W. Dickey at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on the value of the thermal model that has been developed, the new study compared a computational model to clinical data to determine appropriate, and individualized, treatment parameters. See Radiology >

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  • Foundation Funded Research Update: Focused Ultrasound Assists with Bone Regeneration

    The Foundation funded a recently completed project at the University of Michigan that used focused ultrasound to trigger heat-activated, gene-switching cells to control the bone regeneration process.

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  • First Patient Completes Treatment in Korean Glioblastoma Pilot Trial

    The first patient in the world’s first clinical trial using focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and allow chemotherapeutic agents to more efficiently reach the tumors of patients with glioblastoma (GBM) has completed treatment at Severance Hospital, a part of Yonsei University Health System, in Seoul, Korea.

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  • Progress in Focused Ultrasound for Glioblastomas

    Focused ultrasound researchers worldwide are making unprecedented progress in addressing the unmet need of providing life-extending treatment for patients with deadly brain tumors – glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

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  • Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial at Queensland Brain Institute Receives $10M Funding

    In a recent press release, the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) announced that it had received $10 million in new funding from the Federal Minister for Health for a focused ultrasound project led by Professor Jürgen Götz, Director of its Queensland Brain Institute’s (QBI’s) Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CJCADR). As part of the Centre’s comprehensive research program that seeks to discover solutions for various aspects of dementia, the investment is earmarked to launch a phase 1 clinical safety trial to treat approximately 10 patients with Alzheimer’s disease via opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB) with focused ultrasound and microbubbles.

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  • Research Site Profile: University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute

    The University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) recently announced that an impressive $10 million of its latest capital campaign would be directed to its Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) to support the work of Dr. Jürgen Götz and his team of researchers at the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CJCADR). As QBI completes the necessary steps toward initiating their first focused ultrasound-based phase 1 clinical safety trial for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, we interviewed Dr. Götz to learn more about CJCADR and the progress that he and his team have been making over the past several years.

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  • Foundation-Funded Research Update – A New MR Coil for Focused Ultrasound Brain Applications

    An issue that limits precise visualization of the brain during focused ultrasound treatments—essential tremor and Parkinson’s tremor, for example—is that the coils that apply the focused ultrasound beam can interfere with the imaging coils within the MRI. Treating physicians could potentially gain faster and clearer view of the treatment area if this interference was reduced or eliminated.

    To address this problem, the Foundation awarded Kim Butts Pauly, PhD, and her team at Stanford University funding for their project titled “Neuro Focused Ultrasound MR Coil Fabrication and Testing.”

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  • Sunnybrook and Gairdner Foundation Host Focused Ultrasound Symposium

    Sunnybrook Research Institute, the research enterprise of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and the Gairdner Foundationan organization that recognizes and rewards international excellence in fundamental research that impacts human health, recently hosted a two-day symposium entitled "Changing Medicine Forever" to explore advances in focused ultrasound to treat the brain. Held in Toronto, November 20-21, 2018, the event opened with keynote lectures from TV icon Alan Alda and physicist Brian Greene. On the second day, leading scientists and clinicians discussed the latest in focused ultrasound research and techniques to treat brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, and psychiatric disorders, as well as ways to use focused ultrasound in blood-brain barrier disruption and immunotherapy.

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  • Five Focused Ultrasound Pioneers Recognized with Awards

    As the focused ultrasound field grows, an increasing number of pioneering researchers are being recognized for their innovative work to advance this technology. Recent award recipients include Frank Wolfram, PhD, Kullervo Hynynen, PhD, Charles Cain, PhD, Elisa Konofagou, PhD, and Yun Jin, PhD. We ask the community to please notify us of future awards that we should acknowledge.

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  • Meeting Report: IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium

    More than 1,500 researchers from around the world attended the IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS) October 22-25 in Kobe, Japan. The topics on focused ultrasound therapy include ultrasound-mediated drug delivery, neurostimulation, monitoring techniques, microbubble and cavitation in ultrasound therapy, and new technologies to enhance ultrasound therapy. Highlights include:

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  • Meeting Report: Acoustical Society of America 2018

    The 176th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) was held November 5–9, 2018, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. With an overall mission to generate, disseminate, and promote the knowledge and practical applications of acoustics, the meeting included several presentations of interest to the focused ultrasound community. Researchers from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation were invited to present their recent simulation study that developed and validated algorithms for how ultrasound propagates through the skull. Additional topics in the program included blood—spinal cord barrier opening, blood-brain barrier opening, droplet vaporization for mechanical brain tissue ablation, additional simulation work, and much more.

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  • Investigator Profile: Dheeraj Gandhi, MD

    Dr. Dheeraj Gandhi has been involved in all aspects of clinical focused ultrasound work at the University of Maryland, with a specific focus on facilitating direct image-based targeting of brain structures using advanced MR techniques. He is Professor of Radiology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery Director of Interventional Neuroradiology. He is also the Clinical Director of the Center for Metabolic Imaging and Therapeutics (CMIT), the state-of-the-art facility where MR-guided focused ultrasound therapies take place. Dr. Gandhi has worked side-by-side with Dr. Howard Eisenberg, Dr. Elias Melhem, and Dr. Paul Fishman to develop the program into the Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence that it has become. He has been involved in more than 65 focused ultrasound procedures and is now Principal Investigator for a new clinical trial that uses focused ultrasound to treat neuropathic pain. Furthermore, he is working with his imaging colleagues to develop a precision medicine-based approach to focused ultrasound treatment planning. We recently interviewed Dr. Gandhi to learn more about his new study, his career, and his work.

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  • UVA Student Researcher Earns Prestigious Award from the National Cancer Institute

    Natasha Sheybani, a fourth-year PhD candidate and member of the Price Laboratoryin the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, was recently awarded a Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition (F99/K00) Award by the National Cancer Institute. The award is intended to aid students who aspire to start an independent cancer research lab.

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  • October 2018 Research Roundup

    This month’s research highlights come from the 6th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, held this week in Reston, Virginia. Researchers from around the world presented the latest data on focused ultrasound applications for the brain, cancer immunotherapy, liver, lung, veterinary medicine, and more. Which presentations garnered the most attention?

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  • Parkinson’s Dyskinesia Trial Results Published

    The focused ultrasound research team at Yonsei University’s Brain Research Institute, which is led by Dr. Jin Woo Chang, recently published their encouraging 1-year follow-up results from a phase I clinical trial of patients with medication-refractory Parkinson’s dyskinesia in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

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  • Investigator Profile: Maryland Neurosurgeon Graeme Woodworth

    Following the University of Maryland Medical System’s recent announcement that they are beginning the first US focused ultrasound clinical trial for patients with glioblastoma (GBM), we interviewed the study’s principal investigator (PI), neurosurgeon Graeme Woodworth, MD. Dr. Woodworth is Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Director of its Brain Tumor Treatment & Research Center. He is researching the use of focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier to provide treatment options for patient with brain tumors (both glioma and metastatic) and other brain diseases. A member of the Foundation’s GBM consortium, Dr. Woodworth also serves on our Research Advisory Committee, a group tasked with ensuring that the External Research Awards Program supports catalytic research, creates awareness of focused ultrasound technology and techniques, and advances innovative clinical applications of focused ultrasound.

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  • Investigator Profile: Constantin Coussios, PhD

    With the recent publication of first-in-human clinical trial results of focused ultrasound-triggered drug delivery that could make a significant difference in the way that liver cancer is treated, the impressive work of the University of Oxford team led by Constantin Coussios, PhD, the Director the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and the Statutory Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Oxford, has been gaining the attention of physicians and researchers worldwide.

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  • Clinical Trial to Disrupt the Blood-brain Barrier for Brain Tumor Treatment Launched at University of Maryland

    The University of Maryland School of Medicine recently announced that the first clinical trial of its kind in the United States will soon begin there. Researchers are investigating the use of focused ultrasound to disrupt the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients who are scheduled to undergo brain cancer surgery. The safety and feasibility study is a first step toward noninvasively treating these deadly cancers.

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  • $2.5 Million Grant Will Fund Early Epilepsy Study

    Kevin Lee, PhD, Harrison Foundation Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Neurosurgery, and Member of the Brain, Immunology, and Glia Center at the University of Virginia Health System (UVA) recently received a $2.5 million federal grant to explore a novel method for treating epilepsy using focused ultrasound. The R01 grant was awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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  • April 2018 Research Roundup

    This month’s research report highlights the impact of focused ultrasound across multiple medical specialties. As biomarkers have become critical tools for early detection and treatment of malignant and benign tumors, focused ultrasound could help researchers discover them sooner. A Stanford University team published their findings on a study co-funded by the Foundation. Neuromodulation is a promising non-narcotic solution for treating various types of pain. A University of Washington group conducted a pilot study using focused ultrasound neuromodulation to identify which nerves could be the source of pain in patients with unilateral limb amputations. And finally, it might be possible to use focused ultrasound plus microbubbles to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) outside of an MRI suite. Biomedical engineers at Columbia University worked to provide effective alternative imaging techniques.

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  • Japanese Parkinson’s Trial Builds on Swiss Research

    At Tokyo Women’s Medical University in Japan, Takaomi Taira, MD, PhD, has begun a focused ultrasound trial that is pioneering an approach for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. He is targeting the pallidothalamic tracts in the brain, an approach that he believes is superior to other targets due in part to their location. 

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  • Parkinson’s Trial in Madrid Investigates Treating a New Target

    A new Parkinson’s disease clinical trial is currently underway in Madrid, Spain.

    Led by José Obeso, MD, the double-blind trial will investigate the safety and efficacy of using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro focused ultrasound device to treat the cardinal features of Parkinson’s disease. Unlike previous studies that treated the levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease by targeting the globus pallidus region of the brain, this trial aims to treat the part of the brain called the subthalamic nucleus. 

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  • 1st Quarter 2018 Foundation Research Awards

    The Foundation has recently funded four research studies. Three of the projects – at Ohio State University, Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Stanford University – aim to improve the way focused ultrasound is used to treat brain disorders. The fourth – at the University of Virginia – will investigate whether focused ultrasound can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. The Foundation has recently funded four research studies. Three of the projects – at Ohio State University, Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Stanford University – aim to improve the way focused ultrasound is used to treat brain disorders. The fourth – at the University of Virginia – will investigate whether focused ultrasound can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. 

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  • Insightec Partners with Virginia Tech for Brain Research, Closes $150 Million Series E Funding Round

    In a partnership facilitated by the Foundation, Insightechas selected Virginia Tech’s Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) as its first nonclinical research site for developing new treatment options for brain disorders. VTCRI scientists will use Insightec’s Exablate Neuro system paired with a Siemens MRI unit to study potential applications for attacking brain tumors, opening the blood-brain barrier to deliver therapeutics, and treating psychiatric disorders using FUS-induced neuromodulation.

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  • February 2018 Research Roundup

    In addition to the special issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery, several other papers are important to note this month. A clinical trial for neuromodulation of the thalamus was conducted at the University of Minnesota, opening the door for brain mapping with focused ultrasound. Physicians share their clinical experience using focused ultrasound to treat various types of pediatric tumors. Patients with cancer pain may soon benefit from a multi-modality approach developed through an international collaboration.

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  • Meeting Report: Therapeutic Ultrasound Featured at AAAS Annual Meeting

    “Revolutionizing Ultrasound Applications for Treating Disease” was the title of a scientific session held during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) February 15–19, 2018, in Austin, TX. The workshop proved to be an auspicious opportunity to raise awareness of therapeutic ultrasound with a large and diverse audience of international scientists. The 90-minute session offered attendees a review of new therapeutic applications for ultrasound that are “revolutionizing the treatment of disease: surgery without cutting, drug delivery without systemic exposure, and permeation without tearing.” It also touted the technology’s ability to improve patient outcomes and lower the cost of care. For the technically oriented crowd, the session described the science behind acoustic wave manipulation and the latest research in key applications.

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  • January 2018 Research Roundup

    How are the first essential tremor patients treated with focused ultrasound doing now, two years later? Can the right carrier improve drug delivery to the brain? The January Research Roundup answers these questions and includes a technical paper that describes an acoustic lens that might improve focused ultrasound treatments in the brain. 

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  • Foundation Funded Research Update – Focused Ultrasound for Neuromodulation

    Focused ultrasound has the potential to become a new, and potentially more effective, tool for non-invasive neuromodulation of regional brain function. A Foundation-funded research study to test its use in vivo without interference from anesthesia has recently been completed at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Wonhye Lee, PhD (pictured below), Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, MBA, and their colleagues designed and tested wearable devices for evaluating this capability.

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  • Meeting Report: Biomedical Engineering Society

    The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) held their annual meetingOctober 11-14, 2017 in Phoenix, AZ. Nine focused ultrasound presentations were selected for the agenda, and they covered topics such as the use of pulsed focused ultrasound to modulate an immune response in breast and melanoma tumor models; the use of focused ultrasound and microbubbles for cancer therapy; a new idea for prostate cancer treatment; and the development of novel tools for studying focused ultrasound for brain neuromodulation. Two teams developed simulation tools for transcranial research. The Foundation funded the Brigham and Women’s/Harvard Medical School neuromodulation study.

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  • In Memoriam: Juergen Willmann, MD

    We are sad to report that Dr. Juergen Willmann, a champion for focused ultrasound at Stanford University, passed away January 8 at the age of 45.

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  • Site Profile: The University of Calgary

    University of Calgary researchers with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in the Cumming School of Medicine are combining expertise and resources to bring the first comprehensive focused ultrasound brain program to Western Canada. Physicians and scientists from the departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Radiology, and Psychiatry have all joined together for this project. Clinical treatments for essential tremorhave begun under the direction of neurosurgeon Dr. Zelma Kiss. Research teams will also conduct basic and clinical research under the direction of Bruce Pike, PhD, professor of Radiology and Clinical Neurosciences. We recently interviewed the Calgary team to learn more about the entire program.

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  • First Clinical Trial Combining Focused Ultrasound and an Immuno-Oncology Drug Begins for Breast Cancer

    A ground-breaking clinical trial for women diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast canceris now enrolling patients at the University of Virginia Health System.

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  • Foundation-Funded Research Update: Focused Ultrasound Ablation for Cardiac Arrhythmias

    For patients with cardiac arrhythmias, focused ultrasound energy via thermal ablation may have the potential to block the abnormal electrical impulses, thus restoring normal cardiac rhythms and providing alternative management for chronic atrial fibrillation and similar conditions. A foundation-funded research study on this topic has recently been completed at LabTAU – a Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence and a part of INSERM (the French equivalent of the National Institutes of Health). Cyril Lafon, PhD, (the 2016-2017 Merkin Fellow) and his team designed and tested transesophageal probes to apply minimally invasive thermal ablation to cardiac tissue.

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  • Investigator Profile: Matthew Bucknor, MD

    As the lead clinician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine in performing focused ultrasound treatments, Matthew Bucknor, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology, has used the technology to perform more than 30 procedures on 20 patients. This, combined with his prior work at Stanford, makes him one of the most experienced physicians in the country who is treating patients with musculoskeletal diseases using focused ultrasound.

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  • Results of Focused Ultrasound Treatment of Osteoid Osteoma Published

    Karun Sharma, MD, PhD, Director of Interventional Radiology, and colleagues at Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC, have completed their clinical trial to treat benign but painful bone tumors (osteoid osteoma) in children. They have published the results, which demonstrated safety and efficacy for focused ultrasound, and then compared the results to a historical control group of children treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in The Journal of Pediatrics. Children’s National was the first children’s hospital in the US to conduct a clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat pediatric osteoid osteoma with the Philips V2 Sonalleve system.

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  • Turkish Neurosurgeon/Businessman Selected as Foundation-Funded Fellow

    Murat Karabiyikoglu, MD, MBA – a former life-science investment professional with the credentials of a former clinically active neurosurgeon – has joined the Foundation as a research fellow on a J-1 Research Visa, where he will participate as a member of the Foundation’s Brain Technical Research Team as well as conduct independent research projects to help make the case for commercial adoption of the technology.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Clinical Trial Begins for Patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    Researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto have begun a new clinical trial to evaluate the feasibility and safety of focused ultrasound to alleviate symptoms in patients with refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). To date, three of six patients have been treated.

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  • Trial for Comparative Treatment of Osteoid Osteomas Announced at UC San Francisco and Stanford

    The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Stanford University are currently enrolling participants in a comparative trial of osteoid osteoma in pediatric patients. This study will compare CT-guided radiofrequency ablation (CTgRFA) with high-intensity focused ultrasound, comparing pain reduction between the two treatments along with procedural experience and quality of life during recovery.

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  • 2017 Summer Interns Contribute to FUS Field

    middleditch interns 250The talented group of interns participating in the sixth year of the Foundation’s summer internship program included four college students who worked on projects ranging from focused ultrasound patient registries to the use of 3D-printed lenses for transcranial FUS. They were recently able to showcase their projects during a lunch time presentation to Leigh Middleditch (pictured right, with three of the four interns), who is on the Board of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, the generous funder of this summer program.

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  • Raising Awareness about Essential Tremor among Consumers

    The Foundation recently spoke with Rick Schallhorn, Vice President of Neurosurgery, and Xen Mendelsohn Aderka, Vice President of Marketing, for Israel-based Insightec, the company behind focused ultrasound technology for essential tremor (ET). They share their efforts to increase awareness for the focused ultrasound treatment for ET.

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  • Meeting Update: WSSFN

    The 17th quadrennial meeting of the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (WSSFN) was held June 26-29 in Berlin. Data from two key Foundation-funded studies were presented at the meeting, including the blood-brain barrier opening for Alzheimer’s disease, and the Parkinson’s dyskinesia study co-funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “The international neurosurgical community is paying attention to focused ultrasound,” said Focused Ultrasound Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD.

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  • Notable Student Research Awards

    The Foundation strives to cultivate the next generation of scientists working in the field of focused ultrasound. We are proud to announce that three such young researchers, Guillaume Maimbourg, Sarah Brüningk, and Amirah Aly, have earned awards for their work. Meanwhile, a former Foundation intern, Changzhu Jin, has earned his PhD.

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  • 2017 Second Quarter Research Awards

    Two proposals have been selected to receive Foundation funding in the 2nd quarter of 2017.

    James Keenan

    James Keenan, CEO of Artenga, Inc., a Canadian life sciences company, will partner with Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Helsinki to investigate “MRgFUS Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery with AAV2 Gene Therapy Microbubble Drug Conjugates.” The team proposes to develop a novel microbubble-drug conjugate with an adeno-associated virus and then use focused ultrasound to deliver the gene therapy to the regions of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease.




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    Frank Wolfram, PhD

    In Germany, Frank Wolfram, PhD, and his team at SRH Waldklinikum Gera have been funded to determine “Accessibility and Benefit of Focused Ultrasound Treatment for Inoperable Lung Cancer Patients, A Retrospective Analysis.” Now that their preliminary data have shown the feasibility for focused ultrasound to treat lung cancer on large animal models via intentional One Lung Flooding (OLF). This study will analyze the charts of inoperable patients (70% of all lung cancer patients) to map tumor location and volume, classify and analyze the pulmonary function to estimate their accessibility to OLF, and therefore determine the future clinical potential of FUS for treatment of primary lung cancer.


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  • 2017 Meeting Report: The American Urological Association’s (AUA) Annual Meeting

    At the 2017 American Urological Association meeting held in Boston, focused ultrasound technology was included in 15 abstracts, and EDAP released its new Ablatherm “Fusion” technology, which allows urologists to import pre-treatment diagnostic information (MRI images and 3D biopsy maps) and merge it with the live ultrasound image during the procedure.

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  • Investigator Profile: Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD

    While completing his doctoral thesis in a deep brain stimulation project at the University of Toronto, Dr. Nir Lipsman began his work in focused ultrasound at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The overlapping theme at that time – and one that continues in his work today – is applying the latest technological advances to difficult-to-treat brain disorders. An early adopter of focused ultrasound, this neurosurgeon is looking to bring non-invasive solutions to patients as quickly and as safely as possible. He intends to lead the way by collaborating with experts in neurodegenerative disease, psychiatric disorders, and oncology. This approach led him to become the first physician to use focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in a patient with Alzheimer’s disease as part of a clinical trial.

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  • 2017 Meeting Report: The International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine’s (ISMRM) 25th Annual Meeting and Exhibition

    On April 24, John Snell, PhD, Technical Director of the FUSF Brain Program, and Pejman Ghanouni, MD, PhD, from Stanford University, led a continuing education course on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound in the Brain. Designed for physicists and engineers, the session aimed to introduce new or emerging MR methods and applications and discuss their clinical potential.

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  • May 2017 Research Roundup

    The combination of focused ultrasound plus microbubbles or nanobubbles is allowing scientists to reach previously inaccessible parts of the brain and spinal cord. Can gene therapy stop or slow brain tumor development? If nerve growth factor reaches the spinal cord, could it repair damaged neurons? Finally, brain mapping with low-intensity focused ultrasound is the subject of a new study from the University of Virginia.

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  • First Alzheimer’s Trial with Focused Ultrasound Begins

    Charlottesville, VA - May 2, 2017 - Researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto have begun the world’s first clinical trial evaluating the feasibility and safety of opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) utilizing focused ultrasound.

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  • First Focused Ultrasound Pediatric Brain Tumor Study Begins

    Researchers at Nicklaus Children’s Hospitalin Miami, Florida have performed the first procedure in a pediatric and young adult brain tumor study. The trial aims to demonstrate feasibility and safety of using focused ultrasound to ablate a variety of benign tumors located in the central part of the brain in ten patients, ages 8 to 22. Left untreated, these tumors often cause seizures, cognitive delays, or other complications as they grow.

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  • April 2017 Research Roundup

    Two of the articles featured this month further explore using focused ultrasound and microbubbles to open the blood-brain barrier. One investigates how this mechanism affects the microvasculature of the brain, and the other shows its promise in delivering chemotherapy to invasive brain tumors. Finally, a group in Hong Kong proposes a new protocol for large, treatment-resistant thyroid nodules after analyzing results from previous patients.

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  • Investigator Profile: Kathy Ferrara, PhD

    Katherine W. Ferrara, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis and the Director of their Center for Content Rich Evaluation of Therapeutic Efficacy. She also serves on the Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee and has contributed as faculty during our biennial Symposium.

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  • Immunotherapy Plus Focused Ultrasound Shrinks Tumors

    A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight(JCI Insight) suggests that combining focused ultrasound ablation with immunotherapy in the right order can produce a systemic attack on epithelial cancer in a mouse model. However, for the combination to be effective, the immunotherapy must come first using a technique called priming.

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  • Foundation Funded Research Update – Repairing the Parkinson’s Brain

    Parkinson’s disease damages dopamine neurons in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra (SN). Scientists hypothesize that these damaged cells can be repaired, and previous studies found that DNA segments that were introduced through the intranasal route of administration could produce a dopamine cell survival factor called glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) that protected these cells in the SN. Researchers at Northeastern University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Copernicus Therapeutics conducted a study to use focused ultrasound and microbubbles to improve on this concept. 

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  • March 2017 Research Roundup

    Clinical results for focused ultrasound treatment of Parkinson’s tremor are now being presented and published. A case series recently conducted at Rambam Medical Center in Israel is among the first to report results. Focused ultrasound research is also showing promise for priming tumor tissue for enhanced uptake of nanoparticles in Korea and for imagining new treatments for spinal cord injury in China.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Represented at SIR 2017

    The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) held its 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, March 4-9. Three focused ultrasound abstracts were selected for SIR 2017: two oral presentations and one poster. Topics covered include vascular malformations, pediatric osteoid osteoma, and introducing junior radiologists to the field of focused ultrasound. An NIH poster on prostate imaging prior to treatment also mentioned focused ultrasound.

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  • Pivotal Trial Begins for Breast Fibroadenoma

    Patients with benign breast tumors may be eligible for a new focused ultrasound–based investigational treatment as part of a pivotal, multi-center clinical study. The trial began last month at the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center.

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  • February 2017 Research Roundup

    Focused ultrasound brain research is at the center of this month’s roundup. A new paper from Kullervo Hynynen’s group looks at blood-brain barrier restoration time; a new ultrasound technique for optogenetics is being developed at Columbia University; and our study with the University of Virginia compares focused ultrasound to the gamma knife for essential tremor thalamotomy.

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  • Foundation Funded Research Update – Brain Re-myelination in Multiple Sclerosis using Pulsed Focused Ultrasound

    With the goal of slowing or reversing the negative neurological effects of multiple sclerosis, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle recently completed a pre-clinical in vivo study using pulsed focused ultrasound to increase myelination of affected neurons in the brain.

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  • New Center of Excellence Focuses on Collaborations and Education

    The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is pleased to designate a new Center of Excellenceat the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Lyon, France. INSERM Unit 1032, the Laboratory of Therapeutic Applications of Ultrasound (LabTAU), is located within a large medical and research community and conducts significant translational and clinical research with a multi-disciplinary, highly qualified, and complementary team of physicians and scientists.

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  • Foundation Embraces Open Science in 2017

    The concept of Open Science – or immediate access to papers, research data, and procedures – is changing how knowledge is shared.

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  • Competitions Showcase Research Innovation

    Two competitions are underway to recognize leaders in research innovation and entrepreneurship. We encourage those in the focused ultrasound community to apply.

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  • January 2017 Research Roundup

    This month, exciting research was published involving focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier to deliver drugs to metastatic brain tumors, treat a rare type of spinal bone cancer, and reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients.

    In a pre-clinical study, a Taiwanese group used focused ultrasound to increase the amount of a chemotherapy drug delivered across the blood-brain barrier to brain metastases. See Pulsed-wave low-dose ultrasound hyperthermia selectively enhances nanodrug delivery and improves antitumor efficacy for brain metastasis of breast cancer in Ultrasonics Sonochemistry.

    Collaborators in Oxford, UK, present the outcomes from four cases and announce the start of a clinical trial in using focused ultrasound to treat sacral chordoma, a rare type of spinal bone cancer. See High-intensity focused ultrasonic ablation of sacral chordoma is feasible: a series of four cases and details of a national clinical trial in the British Journal of Neurosurgery.

    Two glaucoma centers in Italy successfully treated 30 patients with focused ultrasound to reduce intraocular pressure using Eye Tech Care’s EyeOP1 device. See High-intensity focused ultrasound treatment in patients with refractory glaucoma in Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.

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  • Foundation Funded Research Update – Uterine Fibroid Ablation with Vascular Targeting

    In an effort to decrease treatment times for focused ultrasound ablation of uterine fibroids, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) designed a clinical trial to use the technology to target and destroy the fibroid’s blood supply rather than the fibroid tissue itself. “Accelerated Focused Ultrasound Ablation of Uterine Fibroids with MR guided Vascular Targeting—a Pilot Study” was led by Vascular and Interventional Radiologist Maureen Kohi, MD and radiological research fellow Sandeep Arora, MBBS.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Symposium Abstracts Featured In JTU

    JTU2Abstracts from the Foundation’s 2016 Symposium have now been published in a special supplement to the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound. The presentations covered neurological, liver/pancreas, breast, immunotherapy, cardiovascular, and emerging applications, representing the great progress made in the past decade and the promising future for the field.

    Read the abstracts >

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  • Northern Light: Thunder Bay a Shining Research Site

    The Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute (TBRHRI) is a new center located in a remote area of Canada that is already contributing to the field of focused ultrasound in the region and around the world. The Regional Health Sciences Centre created the research institute as a joint venture to help advance its academic research mandate and strengthen its role as a leader in healthcare innovation and delivery.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Presence Grows at RSNA 2016

    Interest in research related to focused ultrasound continues to grow at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, with special sessions dedicated to the technology as well as 21 FUS-based abstracts, up from 18 last year.

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  • INSERM Director Visits Foundation, Provides Research Update

    Jean-Yves Chapelon, PhD, is Research Director at INSERM’s LabTAU in Lyon, France and leads a collaborative project between INSERM (the French equivalent of the NIH) and the French FUS company EDAP TMS. He visited the Foundation to update us on the history and current status of Ablatherm technology for treatment of prostate cancer.

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  • Verasonics Develops Flexible, High Tech Ultrasound for Research

    Seattle Area-based Verasonics designs and develops a programmable research ultrasound platform that optimally combines energy application and image monitoring all in one for focused ultrasound (FUS) research, development, and commercialization. In addition to therapy, Verasonics’ research ultrasound systems are used for investigation in novel imaging techniques, physics, materials testing, education, and other applications.

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  • World’s First Focal Hand Dystonia Patient Treated with Focused Ultrasound

    Researchers in Japan have treated a patient with hand dystonia with focused ultrasound (FUS) for the first time, enabling a classical guitarist to play music again.

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  • Sunnybrook Centre of Excellence Accelerating Progress Through Collaboration

    The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is honored to recognize Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto as a Centre of Excellence.

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  • GBM Consortium Tests Focused Ultrasound Immunomodulation Parameters

    The Foundation’s multi-site consortium to streamline efforts and accelerate progress in using FUS to increase the body’s anti-tumor immune response has launched its first major project. Researchers at seven institutions will investigate the effects of different FUS modalities on the immune system, each using the same animal model of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumor.

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  • FUS Immunotherapy Summit Builds on Momentum

    More than 40 experts from around the world gathered for the Focused Ultrasound and Immunotherapy Summit, held in partnership with the Cancer Research Institute on October 14. The group met to critically evaluate the current body of evidence, assess the value of ongoing work, and create a roadmap of projects to address any remaining gaps or questions.

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  • Scientific Presentations at a Glance: Wide Ranging Progress

    The Symposium’s scientific presentations demonstrated that significant progress is being made in advancing FUS as a solution in many fields of medicine, utilizing a variety of biomechanisms. Here are some of the highlights:

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  • Physicists in Medicine Meeting Report

    Kullervo Hynynen, PhD, Professor of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto presented a distinguished lecture at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Annual Meeting. The lecture, entitled “Advances in Ultrasound Therapy,” explained the principles, technology, and techniques behind focused ultrasound and its clinical use for drug delivery.

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  • Summer Interns Contribute to the Field

    This year, two returning students were met by a couple of new faces to round out our talented group of summer interns.

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  • University of Maryland Center of Excellence Dedicated to Brain Research

    In recognition of their leadership in advancing focused ultrasound research for the brain, the Foundation is pleased to designate the University of Maryland as a Center of Excellence.

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  • News Flash - First Epilepsy Trial


    World's First Focused Ultrasound Clinical Trial for Epilepsy Begins
    Researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) are starting the first clinical trial in the world using focused ultrasound to treat patients with epilepsy. The study, supported by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in collaboration with the Epilepsy Foundation, will assess the feasibility, safety and initial effectiveness of focused ultrasound to non-invasively destroy (ablate) diseased brain tissue that causes seizures.
    The study is now recruiting up to 15 adult patients with a range of rare deep brain lesions that produce debilitating seizures that often do not respond to medications.  It is expected that most patients in the study will have benign tumors in the hypothalamus, which can lead to frequent seizures with outbursts of spontaneous laughing, giggling, crying or grunting; developmental delays and/or precocious puberty. The disorder can progress as patients age, leading to increased cognitive decline and severe behavior problems.
    Current options for patients whose seizures do not respond to medication include surgery or laser thermal ablation, both which may involve multiple risks or complications, such as damage to normal brain, infection or hemorrhage.  The only currently available non-invasive method is radiosurgery with the gamma knife, which may take months to show effect, is not image guided and involves risks of complications from radiation.
    “Intractable epilepsy, especially this type, can be devastating and existing therapies have risks and are not uniformly effective, so many patients are in desperate need of better therapies,” says principal investigator Nathan Fountain, MD, professor of neurology at UVA. “If we are successful in destroying the lesions without complications, then this will be an important step on the path toward developing focused ultrasound to enable patients to have freedom from seizures without the risks of open surgery.”
    Dr. Fountain will collaborate with UVA neurosurgeon Jeff Elias, MD, in conducting the procedures using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro System. Patients seeking further information about the study should contact Stacy Thompson, RN at or Nathan Fountain, MD at .
    Momentum Building for FUS and Epilepsy

    “We are committed to advancing the technical, scientific and clinical work required for focused ultrasound to reach its full potential in treating epilepsy,” said Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD.  “This is the first in a planned series of studies in epilepsy that the Foundation is supporting.”

    In addition to the UVA study, the Foundation plans to support a clinical trial led by Neurosurgeon Vibhor Krishna, MD, at Ohio State University using focused ultrasound to ablate the anterior nucleus of the thalamus in patients with partial-onset epilepsy. 

    Neurosurgeon Tomokatsu Hori at Tokyo Women’s Medical University recently applied focused ultrasound to a patient with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) to assess feasibility of reaching this target. This is the first step that may ultimately lead to a clinical trial to treat TLE.
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  • New England Journal of Medicine Publishes Tremor Results

    The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published the pivotal study that led to the approval of Insightec’s Exablate Neuro focused ultrasound system to treat essential tremor (ET).


    Sharon Samuels shares her struggle with essential tremor and
    gets her quality of life back after focused ultrasound treatment.

    The ET patients treated in this study achieved significantly reduced unilateral hand tremor that proved durable at 12 months. The procedure also reduced disability and improved quality of life one year after treatment. The study was conducted at eight centers and led by University of Virginia neurosurgeon Jeff Elias, MD.

    “This study represents a major advance for neurosurgery, treatment of brain disease and specifically the treatment of essential tremor,” Dr. Elias said. “For the first time in a randomized controlled trial, we have shown that ultrasound can be precisely delivered through the intact human skull to treat a difficult neurological disease.”

    “This publication further affirms to the medical community that focused ultrasound is a safe and effective alternative to treat the brain without incisions or radiation,” says Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD. “Now that Insightec’s system is approved by the FDA, the important next step is to secure the appropriate levels of reimbursement so that leading medical centers will invest in this technology and make it widely available to patients seeking non-invasive options for their tremors.”

    Given the challenges of accessing the brain and the high cost, complications, and limitations of some current approaches, we believe that focused ultrasound has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of many brain disorders and ultimately to open up opportunities to rapidly advance applications throughout the body.

    The idea of using focused ultrasound to treat tremors was conceptualized at the Foundation's first brain workshop in March 2009. The Foundation then helped organize and fund a pilot study with Insightec and the University of Virginia that served as the predicate for this larger pivotal study.

    NEJM ET video320 captionThe pivotal study was funded by a partnership between the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Insightec and the BIRD (Israel-US Binational Industrial R&D) Foundation.

    Read the University of Virginia's press release >

    The pivotal trial took place at the following sites:

    • Brigham & Women's Hospital
    • Stanford University Medical Center
    • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
    • Swedish Medical Center
    • University of Maryland Medical System
    • University of Virginia 
    • Tokyo Women's Medical University
    • Yonsei University Medical Center


    Media Coverage



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  • Leading French Researcher Joins Foundation as Merkin Fellow

    Starting this month, Cyril Lafon, PhD, joins the Foundation as the 2016-2017 Richard Merkin Visiting Fellow.

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  • Investigator Profile: Q&A with Cyril Lafon, PhD

    Cyril Lafon, PhD, joins the Foundation as the 2016-2017 Richard Merkin Visiting Fellow. Dr. Lafon is the Director of LabTAU, a research laboratory of INSERM – the French National Institutes of Health – located in Lyon. He was selected based on his innovative ideas and proven track record in developing focused ultrasound devices for patient use. We sat down with Cyril to discuss how he became interested in focused ultrasound and his work.

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  • May 2016 Research Roundup

    How do changes in focused ultrasound frequency affect anatomic specificity and efficacy in neurostimulation? Researchers in the US and China both studied this question in mice. A group in France has performed an in vivo, beating heart feasibility study for using focused ultrasound to perform cardiac ablation. Chinese researchers found improved short-term survival in patients treated with focused ultrasound plus chemotherapy when compared with chemotherapy alone for patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer.

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  • HIFU Prostate Treatment Debated by Urologists

    Patient selection for high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) prostate treatment was featured as one of the opening plenary sessions for the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association, held earlier this month in San Diego.

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  • Q & A with Vanderbilt University’s Will Grissom and Charles Caskey

    Charles Caskey, PhD, and Will Grissom, PhD, at Vanderbilt University’s Institute of Imaging Science address questions about their site and its important focused ultrasound work. In May 2016, the team at Vanderbilt debuted DIY hardware blueprints and open-source software so that other researchers can build their own systems to conduct pre-clinical MR-guided FUS studies.

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  • OCD/Depression Steering Committee Begins Clinical Study Protocol Design

    Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD will lead a North American group of neurosurgical, psychiatric, and technology experts to advance the use of focused ultrasound for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression--two neuropsychiatric disorders that can be challenging to successfully treat with medication.

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  • Neuromodulation Research Prize Encourages Progress

    The Focused Ultrasound Foundation will award a clinical neuromodulation research prize to the first investigator or team of investigators to elicit transient sensory symptoms or tremor suppression using non-thermal FUS neuromodulation during a patient treatment.

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  • UK Invests in Creation of FUS Research Network

    A consortium of researchers, led by Gail ter Haar, PhD, has earned a prestigious multi-year government grant to build a research network to advance focused ultrasound across the UK. The initiative has been aptly named ThUNDDAR (Therapeutic Ultrasound for Drug Delivery and Ablation Research), and will be supported by a grant of £675,000 over four years.

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  • March 2016 Research Roundup

    Oncology is the theme for this month’s research review. Recently published focused ultrasound papers include clinical evaluation of HIFU for treating pancreatic cancer, results from a Phase I breast cancer trial, and a 5-year review of outcomes after whole-gland prostate treatment.

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  • Brain Technical Program Collaborates to Expand the Treatment Envelope

    Scientists from the Foundation’s Brain Technical Program have joined with the University of Utah on a project to expand the range of neurological disorders that can be treated with focused ultrasound.

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  • ISTU Features Live Brain Treatment

    ISTU attendees were virtually transported via teleconference from the meeting space to a high-tech operating room at Rambam Medical Center to witness a live broadcast of a brain focused ultrasound treatment on a patient with essential tremor.

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  • February 2016 Research Roundup

    This month’s roundup includes studies in brain disorders, immunology, and women’s health. Is it feasible to use focused ultrasound to treat temporal lobe epilepsy? Can scientists deliver GDNF plasmids across the BBB to potentially treat Parkinson’s disease? How does focused ultrasound compare to DBS in treating ET?

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  • Research Update: Histotripsy Standards and Lysis of Deep Vein Thrombi

    With the eventual goal to use focused ultrasound to dissolve chronic deep vein blood thrombi, Kenneth B. Bader, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Cincinnati recently completed a study to develop standards to regulate microbubble cloud formation during histotripsy pulses.

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  • FUS Poised for Growth in Japan

    After nearly 20 years of activity in the country, focused ultrasound may now be positioned for commercial success in Japan.

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  • January 2016 Research Roundup

    Gene Therapy and Immunology

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  • Research Update: Real-time 3D MR Thermometry

    A recently completed Foundation-funded research project has resulted in the filing of a new US Patent Application.

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  • FUS Plus Chemotherapy Cures Cancer in Mice

    In a new paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Katherine W. Ferrara, PhD, and her team at UC Davis report their strategy to destroy an entire tumor without thermal destruction of the tumor margin. Her group used focused ultrasound to dramatically increase the concentration of doxorubicin within several types of tumors using mouse models of mammary carcinoma.

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