Research News

  • Immunotherapy Research Overview

    New and ongoing clinical and preclinical research is examining the use of focused ultrasound in initiating an anti-tumor immune response – either alone or in combination with immunotherapies – to treat cancer.

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  • Case Report: Histotripsy-Induced Abscopal Effect in Liver Tumors

    The Foundation thanks Joan Vidal-Jové, MD, PhD, of the Interventional and Surgical Oncology department at the Comprehensive Tumor Center Barcelonain Barcelona, Spain, for providing this case report.

    The Patient

    In November 2013, a 67-year-old male with stage 4 colon cancer underwent surgical resection of a part of his colon containing cancer. During the operation, he was noted to have hepatic metastases. After recovery from his colon surgery, the patient was started on chemotherapy. In 2014 and 2015, he underwent two separate open surgeries to remove liver masses, and chemotherapy was continued. From 2015 to 2018, his cancer was in remission, and he was maintained on adjuvant chemotherapy. In May 2018, during routine follow-up, the patient showed marked progression of his liver tumors in addition to new lung masses. Due to these findings, he was started on a different chemotherapy regimen plus an immunotherapy drug. In July 2018, three of the patient’s liver masses were treated with thermal ablation by ultrasound-guided, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). He had a partial response to this treatment, but, unfortunately, his disease continued to progress, and he was maintained on the chemotherapy plus immunotherapy regimen.

    Abscopal case study figure1 captionIn April 2019, an MRI of the patient’s abdomen revealed countless liver masses that had increased in number and size since his last evaluation (Figure 1). The patient received an evaluation by the Tumor Board at Comprehensive Tumor Center Barcelona, and his inclusion in a clinical trial – the THERESA study – was approved. The THERESA studyis a first-in-human clinical trial sponsored by HistoSonics, Inc. to establish the safety and efficacy of their histotripsy device to treat liver tumors. The patient was not considered a candidate for other surgical or locoregional therapies.

    On May 13, 2019, the patient underwent histotripsy-mediated ablation of a 1.2 cm x 1 cm lesion in his liver. No adverse events occurred during or after the procedure, including no pain. In the weeks following the procedure, lab tests revealed a significant decrease in the value of the tumor marker CEA (Figure 2), and the patient continued to feel well with no pain. Follow up MRI scans at one, four, and eight weeks showed a decrease in size of the targeted, treated lesion as well as a decrease in size of numerous other, non-treated lesions throughout the liver (Figure 3). Immune assessment (CD3, CD4, CD8, IL6, Complement) was equivocal.

    Abscopal case study figure2 captionFollowing the advice of the patient’s oncologist, a new chemotherapy regime was initiated five weeks after the ablation procedure. After this, both tumor marker levels and the size of the liver lesions continued to decrease.

    In December 2019, there was progression of the liver metastases and appearance of a new tumor in the colon. New treatment options and clinical trials are still being explored. At present, one year after his treatment with histotripsy and evidence of an abscopal effect, the patient has slow progression of his disease.

    Focused Ultrasound for Abdominal Tumors

    Surgical resection is the established first-line treatment for primary and metastatic liver cancer. However, surgical removal with curative intent is only feasible for a minority of patients with liver metastases (10-25 percent) since only a small proportion of patients have tumors that are entirely resectable at presentation.1 Despite the survival advantage of hepatic resection on colorectal cancer liver metastases, relapse is common following curative resection.2 In addition, surgery is an invasive procedure associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality.3

    Abscopal case study figure3 captionAblation techniques are promising alternatives for those patients who are not eligible for surgical resection or who have failed other therapies. Current ablation methods include non-thermal ablation methods (e.g., percutaneous ethanol injection [PEI] and irreversible electroporation [IRE]) and thermal modalities (e.g., radiofrequency ablation [RFA, microwave ablation [MWA], and HIFU.)4

    Despite the efficacy of some of these local thermal ablation modalities, significant limitations exist due to their mode of action (thermal tissue destruction). Thermal ablation is inconsistent in tissue with non-uniform heat dissipation patterns, which is common in liver tumors.5 It often results in incomplete tumor necrosis in tissue that is located near major vessels.6, 7 Consequently, the shape and the size of the ablation zone may be unpredictable, and the efficacy of thermal ablation may be restricted.8 In addition, thermal ablation methods are often unsuitable for treating tumors larger than three centimeters due to excessive treatment time and practical ultrasound probe sizes.9-11 Most complications associated with RFA and MWA are consequences related to thermal injury.12 Another limitation of these methods is the lack of imaging feedback during treatment. Thus, CT or MRI evaluates the effect of ablation treatment after the application of thermal treatment while no real-time imaging provides monitoring during treatment.13

    HIFU is a noninvasive, image-guided, thermal ablation method. Unlike percutaneous thermal modalities, HIFU is completely extracorporeal and lacks the risks of bleeding and tumor seeding with the direct puncture of tumors. HIFU can improve upon other thermal ablation modalities due to its noninvasiveness, real-time feedback, and the ability to scan the focal zone over a large volume.13 As with the other thermal-based methods, HIFU is limited by the heat-sink effect, resulting in reduced efficacy in ablating tissue near major vessels and by extended treatment time for larger liver volumes.13 Another major challenge in the noninvasive treatment of liver tumors using HIFU is rib obstruction, which may result in secondary hot spots near the treatment main focal zone, inducing loss of therapeutic precision and collateral damage.14 Moreover, because of the high ultrasound absorption coefficient at the bone-tissue interface, overheating of ribs and surrounding tissue often results in unwanted tissue damage. Skin burns and subcostal edema have been reported with HIFU ablation cases.15, 16

    Therefore, developing new strategies in which a liver tumor can be ablated noninvasively and avoiding thermal-related collateral damage and inefficacy would be a major clinical advancement. To address this unmet clinical need, cavitation-based, ultrasound-guided treatment (histotripsy) is a promising option to destroy liver tumors and overcome the limitations of currently available ablation modalities.

    Histotripsy is a treatment technology that mechanically destroys targeted tissue through the precise targeting of acoustic cavitation.17-19 The ablation system is an image-guided device designed to deliver noninvasive, non-thermal histotripsy for local treatment that has the potential to overcome many limitations of other focal liver tumor treatment options.

    The Histotripsy Group in the Biomedical Engineering Department at University of Michigan invented and pioneered the development of focused ultrasound histotripsy more than 12 years ago. Starting with their earliest work with the use of microbubbles to cause tissue damage, this group developed histotripsy into a highly controlled and predictable tool to remove unwanted tissue with microscopic precision. In 2010, HistoSonics, Inc. entered into a worldwide exclusive license with the University of Michigan for exclusive rights to the entire portfolio of histotripsy patents and patent applications.

    Favorable characteristics of histotripsy treatment method include:

    • No insertion of probes or needle electrodes required
    • Ultrasound imaging feedback for pre-operative planning and real-time visualization of target tumor and image-guided tissue destruction
    • Prevents damage to adjacent structures
    • Overcomes rib obstruction
    • Precise targeting
    • Minimal scarring

    An additional potential benefit of histotripsy may be as immunogenic ablation20 if it can be used to stimulate tumor-specific immune responses capable of magnifying the impact of checkpoint inhibition immunotherapy. The characteristics of this cavitation-based ablation likely allow cytokines and metabolites – not destroyed in the tumor micro-environment – to become highly immunogenic and contribute to the abscopal effect, where shrinkage of untargeted tumors occurs secondary to an immune response.

    The abscopal – or “off target” – effect was first described in patients who were receiving radiation therapy that were noted to have regression of tumors that were in a non-irradiated zone. It describes the ability of localized radiation to initiate an antitumor response that kills cancer cells distant to the primary target. Similar to radiation, focused ultrasound has been shown to produce an abscopal effect in both preclinical and human cancers. When combined with immunotherapy, the abscopal effect could produce a durable treatment response to control or eradicate metastatic cancer.

    Conclusion and Future Goals

    This case report shows clear evidence of an immunologic relationship between histotripsy ablation and the abscopal effect. A patient with progressive and extensive metastatic disease with a short overall survival prognosis had noticeable shrinkage of non-targeted metastases and is still alive and considering new clinical trial options one year after the histotripsy procedure.

    In addition, this report highlights the differences between two focused ultrasound modalities. Thermal US guided HIFU was performed previously and obtained a substantial volume ablation but no immune effects. Less volume ablation with histotripsy generated a noticeable abscopal effect, and this data will influence future research assumptions.

    Histotripsy is a disruptive technology. The non-thermal and noninvasive characteristics of histotripsy offer patients the potential for a tumor treatment with fewer clinical complications and adverse events than currently available ablation methods and surgical procedures. The safety of histotripsy has been demonstrated through rigorous testing including benchtop and both acute and chronic disease preclinical studies. Future clinical trials with the objectives to evaluate technical performance, including acute technical success, while collecting safety-related data are forthcoming. In addition, further clinical trials should continue to explore histotripsy-mediated immune effects in detail.

    The THERESA Study used an investigative histotripsy device that is not yet commercially available. The THERESA Study is currently ongoing; therefore, data is not considered final.

    References

    1. Wicherts DA, de Haas RJ, Adam R. Bringing unresectable liver disease to resection with curative intent. European journal of surgical oncology: the journal of the European Society of Surgical Oncology and the British Association of Surgical Oncology. 2007;33 Suppl 2:S42-51. Epub 2007/11/06.
    2. Zakaria S, Donohue JH, Que FG, Farnell MB, Schleck CD, Ilstrup DM, et al. Hepatic resection for colorectal metastases: value for risk scoring systems? Annals of surgery. 2007;246(2):183-91. Epub 2007/08/02.
    3. Livraghi T, Makisalo H, Line PD. Treatment options in hepatocellular carcinoma today. Scandinavian journal of surgery: SJS: official organ for the Finnish Surgical Society and the Scandinavian Surgical Society. 2011;100(1):22-9. Epub 2011/04/13.
    4. Bruix J, Sherman M. Management of hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology. 2005;42(5):1208-36. Epub 2005/10/27.
    5. Livraghi T, Solbiati L, Meloni MF, Gazelle GS, Halpern EF, Goldberg SN. Treatment of focal liver tumors with percutaneous radio-frequency ablation: complications encountered in a multicenter study. Radiology. 2003;226(2):441-51. Epub 2003/02/04.
    6. Aschoff AJ, Merkle EM, Wong V, Zhang Q, Mendez MM, Duerk JL, et al. How does alteration of hepatic blood flow affect liver perfusion and radiofrequency-induced thermal lesion size in rabbit liver? Journal of magnetic resonance imaging: JMRI. 2001;13(1):57-63. Epub 2001/02/13.
    7. Kudo M. Radiofrequency ablation for hepatocellular carcinoma: updated review in 2010. Oncology. 2010;78 Suppl 1:113-24. Epub 2010/07/17.
    8. Mulier S, Ni Y, Jamart J, Ruers T, Marchal G, Michel L. Local recurrence after hepatic radiofrequency coagulation: multivariate meta-analysis and review of contributing factors. Annals of surgery. 2005;242(2):158-71. Epub 2005/07/26.
    9. Curley SA. Radiofrequency ablation of malignant liver tumors. The oncologist. 2001;6(1):14-23. Epub 2001/02/13.
    10. Lu DS, Raman SS, Limanond P, Aziz D, Economou J, Busuttil R, et al. Influence of large peritumoral vessels on outcome of radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors. Journal of vascular and interventional radiology: JVIR. 2003;14(10):1267-74. Epub 2003/10/11.
    11. Marrero JA, Pelletier S. Hepatocellular carcinoma. Clinics in liver disease. 2006;10(2):339-51, ix. Epub 2006/09/15.
    12. Lahat E, Eshkenazy R, Zendel A, Zakai BB, Maor M, Dreznik Y, et al. Complications after percutaneous ablation of liver tumors: a systematic review. Hepatobiliary surgery and nutrition. 2014;3(5):317-23. Epub 2014/11/14.
    13. Vlaisavljevich E, Kim Y, Allen S, Owens G, Pelletier S, Cain C, et al. Image-guided non-invasive ultrasound liver ablation using histotripsy: feasibility study in an in vivo porcine model. Ultrasound in medicine & biology. 2013;39(8):1398-409. Epub 2013/05/21.
    14. Bobkova S, Gavrilov L, Khokhlova V, Shaw A, Hand J. Focusing of high-intensity ultrasound through the rib cage using a therapeutic random phased array. Ultrasound in medicine & biology. 2010;36(6):888-906. Epub 2010/06/01.
    15. Jung SE, Cho SH, Jang JH, Han JY. High-intensity focused ultrasound ablation in hepatic and pancreatic cancer: complications. Abdominal imaging. 2011;36(2):185-95. Epub 2010/06/01.
    16. Wu F, Wang ZB, Chen WZ, Wang W, Gui Y, Zhang M, et al. Extracorporeal high intensity focused ultrasound ablation in the treatment of 1038 patients with solid carcinomas in China: an overview. Ultrasonics sonochemistry. 2004;11(3-4):149-54. Epub 2004/04/15.
    17. Parsons JE, Cain CA, Abrams GD, Fowlkes JB. Pulsed cavitational ultrasound therapy for controlled tissue homogenization. Ultrasound in medicine & biology. 2006;32(1):115-29. Epub 2005/12/21.
    18. Roberts WW, Hall TL, Ives K, Wolf JS, Jr., Fowlkes JB, Cain CA. Pulsed cavitational ultrasound: a noninvasive technology for controlled tissue ablation (histotripsy) in the rabbit kidney. The Journal of urology. 2006;175(2):734-8. Epub 2006/01/13.
    19. Xu Z, Ludomirsky A, Eun LY, Hall TL, Tran BC, Fowlkes JB, et al. Controlled ultrasound tissue erosion. IEEE transactions on ultrasonics, ferroelectrics, and frequency control. 2004;51(6):726-36. Epub 2004/07/13.
    20. Shibin Qu, Tejaswi Worlikar, Amy E Felsted, Anutosh Ganguly, Megan V Beems, Ryan Hubbard, et al. Non-thermal histotripsy tumor ablation promotes abscopal immune responses that enhance cancer immunotherapy. J Immunother Cancer 2020; 8:e000200. doi:10.1136/ jitc-2019-000200

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  • Call for Comments: Guidelines for Immune Analysis During Focused Ultrasound Research

    The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is asking members of the research community with experience in immunology to comment on our draft assessment guidelines by August 1, 2020.

    Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, noninvasive therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the lives of patients with cancer by providing either an alternative or complement to existing therapies. A growing body of research has demonstrated that focused ultrasound can initiate a powerful anti-tumor immune response that complements other immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors. This combination approach has the potential to enhance the effectiveness and reduce the side effects of current immunotherapy treatments. Currently, the first clinical trials pairing focused ultrasound with immunotherapy drugs are underway, investigating this combination approach in patients with advanced metastatic cancers.

    In July 2019, the Foundation partnered with the Cancer Research Institute to host a Focused Ultrasound and Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop. That meeting culminated in a clear roadmap of important projects and next steps for the field. The group determined that the highest priority was the need to develop guidelines for immune analysis during focused ultrasound studies, including protocols for optimal collection and storage of tissue samples and prioritized immune assays. As the field continues to grow, it is critical that all studies use the same methods of analysis whenever possible so results can be compared as researchers examine the effects of varying drug combinations in multiple tumor models.

    In recent months, the Foundation has drafted guidelines – for preclinical and clinical studies – with the input of our Cancer Immunotherapy Scientific Advisory Board and several other researchers in this field. We are pleased to invite public comment on these documents.

    The proposed guidelines include suggestions for analysis decision trees and assays. We emphasize the need to run a few, very pointed assays/analyses first, before storing remaining samples for later analysis.

    We encourage the community to review these preclinical and clinical guidelines and submit comments until August 1, 2020.

    See “Guidelines for Immune Analysis Following FUS Treatment – Preclinical” >

    See “Guidelines for Immune Analysis Following FUS Treatment – Clinical” >

    Submit your Comments >

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  • Focused Ultrasound—Assisted Liquid Biopsy in the Brain

    Focused Ultrasound for Safe and Effective Release of Brain Tumor Biomarkers into the Peripheral Circulation

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  • Apply Now: Lockhart Memorial Prize for Cancer Research

    In 2017, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation established the Andrew J. Lockhart Memorial Prize through support of the family and friends of Andrew J. Lockhart, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 39 from cholangiocarcinoma, a particularly virulent cancer affecting the biliary system of the liver and gallbladder. The Lockhart Prize is intended to support research that could lead to more effective therapeutic interventions for hard-to-treat cancers like the cancer that took his life.

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  • Call for Comments: Guidelines for Focused Ultrasound Treatment Reporting

    Focused ultrasound is a versatile technology that can interact with tissue in diverse ways to produce more than 18 different bioeffects. This versatility makes focused ultrasound a potential treatment for more than 130 medical conditions. However, without clear standardization of treatment reporting and methodologies for measuring and describing key parameters for preclinical and clinical investigations, these diverse “modes” of focused ultrasound can also present a unique barrier to widespread clinical translation.

    A general challenge often discussed at the Foundation’s workshops and symposia is the difficulty comparing treatment parameters from one focused ultrasound device to another. Furthermore, with no consistent standards for measurements and reporting, it can be impossible to reproduce results across multiple laboratories. The consensus view has identified the need for a set of guidelines to recommend key parameters to report and measurement methodologies to use; the aim would be for the entire focused ultrasound community to begin using these guidelines for future research.

    In recent months, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation has drafted guidelines, with the input of several focused ultrasound scientific and technical experts, and we are pleased to invite public comment on a draft of this document.

    The guidelines outlined in this document aim to fulfill three main objectives:
    • To ensure consistency in the reporting of focused ultrasound treatment parameters, which will enable cross-comparison of studies performed by different groups and/or with different systems;
    • To provide guidelines for assessing and reporting bioeffects associated with different focused ultrasound treatment regimens, which is necessary for cross-comparison of studies and validation of therapeutic bioeffects;
    • To provide guidelines for testing focused ultrasound systems and protocols.
    The guidelines are divided into five sections:
    1. Overall recommendations for important parameters to report;
    2. Detailed methodologies for measuring/simulating focused ultrasound system and field parameters;
    3. Detailed methodologies to assess bioeffects;
    4. Daily Quality Assurance (DQA) procedures for FUS equipment; and
    5. Relevant standards and references.

    The Foundation is seeking public comments on these guidelines to ensure that they are comprehensive and address challenges faced by the community. The public comment period is open until July 15, 2020.

    Submit your Comments Now > 

    Your feedback is essential so please comment by July 15.

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  • Meeting Report: ASCO 2020

    The scientific program for the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)was held virtually from May 29–31, 2020.

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  • Meeting Report: Frontiers of Immunotherapy

    The New York Academy of Sciences held “Frontiers in Cancer Immunotherapy 2020” as an online symposium May 11–12, 2020.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Plus Fluorescein Inhibits Brain Tumor Growth

    Fluorescein‑Mediated Sonodynamic Therapy in a Rat Glioma Model

    FUF-SonodynamicTherapy-FINALSonodynamic therapy (SDT) is a novel idea for treating cancer. SDT uses targeted, low-intensity focused ultrasound energy to activate a chemical agent that is usually nontoxic. This nontoxic chemical agent is called a “sonosensitizer.” Although the exact mechanism is still being studied, when the ultrasound activates the sonosensitizer, the resulting biological reaction (e.g., generating a reactive oxygen species) creates an environment that negatively impacts the targeted tumor cells.

    In this study, researchers from the University of Virginia, Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation sought to investigate whether fluorescein (FL) might be an effective sensitizer for SDT to treat cerebral high-grade glioma, a deadly tumor. FL is a safe, fluorescent xanthene dye that is used during brain tumor surgery to highlight tumoral tissue, as it accumulates specifically within the tumoral environment and washes out of healthy tissues.

    In a rat glioma model, the research team compared whether FL was effective for SDT under three different levels of acoustic energy deposition. FL was highly tumor specific, and they found that the SDT treatment significantly inhibited the growth of ectopic gliomas across all three focused ultrasound exposure conditions compared to focused ultrasound or FL alone: the results were still non conclusive for cell death, although the data favor this. Could this treatment be effective in an intracranial glioma model or in human gliomas?

    See the Journal of Neuro-Oncology >

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  • Focused Ultrasound Neuromodulation for Epilepsy

    Non-invasive Ultrasonic Neuromodulation of Neuronal Excitability for Treatment of Epilepsy

    A focused ultrasound neuromodulation study reported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences was selected as the cover story for the journal Theranostics.

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  • CarThera Treats First Patient in New Brain Cancer Clinical Trial

    CarThera, a French ultrasound company, has announced the start of a new clinical trial in France. The “SoniMel” study has enrolled and treated its first patient diagnosed with brain metastases from a primary melanoma.

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  • Research Site Profile: Seoul National University Hospital

    The Core Hub for Medical Research of UltraSound (CHORUS) is a focused ultrasound research facility located within the Department of Radiology at Seoul National University Hospital in Korea. The group’s incredibly wide breadth of applications combined with their multifaceted internal and external collaborations has created a highly productive environment for clinical and preclinical research. Importantly, CHORUS scientists recently discovered a potential mechanism for how focused ultrasound treatment clears amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s diseaseWe interviewed Jae Young Lee, MD, PhD, to learn more about one of Seoul’s many impressive focused ultrasound centers.

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  • Focused Ultrasound for Benign Pediatric Brain Tumors: A Case Report

    The Patient

    A 15-year-old female diagnosed with a benign brain tumor called a hypothalamic hamartoma (HH) presented to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, in 2019.

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  • Focused Ultrasound and Microbubbles Open the Blood–Spinal Cord Barrier (BSCB)

    Enhanced Detection of Bubble Emissions Through the Intact Spine for Monitoring Ultrasound-Mediated Blood-Spinal Cord Barrier Opening

    Stock spine illustrationA team at Sunnybrook Research Institute, led by Meaghan O'Reilly, PhD, has begun to use focused ultrasound plus microbubbles to open the blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB). The group recently discovered that microbubble emissions from short burst, phase keying (SBPK) focused ultrasound applications, which were previously studied to mitigate standing waves in the vertebral canal, are also effective for opening the BSCB. The preclinical study used a “pulse inversion” technique that, when combined with SBPK focused ultrasound, produced a clinically relevant pulse scheme. Could noninvasively opening the BSCB lead to novel drug delivery techniques? See IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering >

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  • A Faster Skull Assessment Technique for Transcranial Focused Ultrasound Planning

    Computationally Efficient Transcranial Ultrasonic Focusing: Taking Advantage of the High Correlation Length of the Human Skull

    Aubry skull correction video smBefore a patient can undergo focused ultrasound brain treatment, the medical team must assess the structure of the skull bone, and this is done using a CT scan. The reason for this test is that ultrasound does not travel in a direct path through bone: the skull distorts the ultrasound waves. Focusing the ultrasound, therefore, depends on calculating the degree of the distortions and then correcting them. Every bit of improvement in the accuracy of the calculation could be beneficial to the patient, and researchers are working on increasingly refined calculations. Advanced computer simulations now take into account not only the thickness but also the detailed internal structure of the skull bone, but the three-dimensional calculations typically take about two hours. Now, researchers at Physics for Medicine Paris have developed and tested a novel method that can complete the calculation in as little as 30 seconds. After validating the method on several different skulls, the only question that remains is how quickly it can be translated to a clinical setting. See IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control>

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  • New Research Suggests Focused Ultrasound Could Improve Brain Tumor Gene Therapy

    A collaborative research team led by Rich Price, PhD, at the University of Virginia and Justin Hanes, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University has published new, and somewhat unexpected, results from their preclinical nanoparticle gene delivery work.

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  • Cleveland Team Develops Flexible Patches for Focused Ultrasound Neuromodulation

    Flexible Body-Conformal Ultrasound Patches for Image-Guided Neuromodulation

    logo case western reserve universityAn engineering team from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland recently designed and validated a new type of flexible ultrasound transducer. Their small- and large-sized body-conforming ultrasound patches contain both imaging and modulation elements. The patches are designed for use in preclinical models with image-guided neural therapies at a focal depth of 10 to 20 mm. Possible applications include neuromodulation of the vagus, tibial, or other nerves. See IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control>

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  • Focused Ultrasound for Psychiatric Disorders: Clinical Trial Results Published

    Researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre published data indicating that focused ultrasound is safe and effective in addressing the symptoms of treatment-resistant major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

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  • Intern Update: Sam Clinard

    Cultivating the next generation is one of several strategies that the Foundation uses to fulfill its mission, and our scholars program allows us to introduce bright and promising students to the field of focused ultrasound. Sam Clinard joined the Foundation as a 2019 summer intern, and he has now chosen to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. We interviewed Sam to learn more about his ambitions in the field.

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  • Foundation’s Kranion Software Used to Predict Transcranial Temperature Rise

    Kranion, an Open-source Environment for Planning Transcranial Focused Ultrasound Surgery: Technical Note

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  • Foundation-funded Research Update: Pulsed Focused Ultrasound for Pancreatic Cancer

    A collaborative group led by Gail ter Haar, PhD, and Elizabeth Respasky, PhD, recently completed a two-year pancreatic cancer immunotherapy project titled, “Defining Basic Properties of Physical Immunotherapy using HIFU and Immune Checkpoint Inhibition.”

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  • Taiwanese Researchers Control Cells with Sound

    Sonogenetic Modulation of Cellular Activities Using an Engineered Auditory-Sensing Protein

    Taiwanese scientists recently engineered a biological system for using focused ultrasound to remotely control living cells.

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  • New Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial Results

    West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute partnered with Weill Cornell Medicine to publish initial resultsfrom their clinical trials using focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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  • Histotripsy-induced Immune Response

    Non-thermal Histotripsy Tumor Ablation Promotes Abscopal Immune Responses that Enhance Cancer Immunotherapy

    Research Roundup 2019 smAn international collaborative group based at the University of Michigan sought to determine whether histotripsy could create an anti-tumor immune response to melanoma or hepatocellular carcinoma in mice. Besides stimulating tumor-specific immune responses that appeared to synergize with checkpoint-based immunotherapeutics, their technique also may have created a systemic immune response that shrunk secondary untreated tumors and inhibited growth of pulmonary metastases.

    See Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer >

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  • Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) Seeks Input on White Paper

    April 2, 2020 is the deadline for the public comment period on the Medical Device Innovation Consortium's (MDIC) white paper: “Maximizing Patient Input in the Design and Development of Medical Device Clinical Trials,” and the Foundation is encouraging input from our community.

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  • How Focused Ultrasound Can Help Combat the Opioid Crisis

    The opioid epidemic is a national crisis. Every day, an estimated 130 people die in the United States from an opiate related overdose. Many of these deaths can be attributed to an initial or current misuse of prescription opioids, often prescribed to treat acute and chronic pain. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the annual economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the United States alone is $78.5 billion, which includes the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. About 80 percent of people who use heroin have misused a prescription opiate first. These types of staggering statistics go on, but the point is that the opioid epidemic is a real problem requiring realistic, effective, and timely solutions.

    A Multi-faceted Approach
    Many different areas need improvement when considering potential solutions to the opioid crisis, and it will likely be advancement in all of them that results in a real progress. Those who already suffer from an opioid misuse disorder need improved access to evidence-based treatment. It is imperative to advance research in overdose therapy, medication-assisted therapy, and opiate abuse risk reduction. Most relevant to the field of focused ultrasound is the establishment and promotion of alternatives to opiate-based medications for the treatment of pain. Another area that has the potential to use focused ultrasound is in the identification and development of new therapies to aid in abstinence from opiates.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Featured at Milken Institute Summit

    Innovations Transforming Health care Delivery smThe Foundation’s Director of Clinical Relationships, Suzanne LeBlang, MD, participated in a transformative panel discussion at the 2020 Milken Institute Middle East and Africa (MEA) Summit. The session, “Innovations Transforming Health-care Delivery,” focused on how health technology can make care faster and less invasive, but also make innovative therapies accessible to a global population. The panelists discussed promising new technologies – including focused ultrasound – and examined their potential to improve medicine, the challenges that exist to make them widely available, and how to leverage the data that they collect.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Highlighted at Annual Pain Meeting

    The Foundation’s Director of Clinical Relationships, Suzanne LeBlang, MD, recently attended the World Academy of Pain Medicine United’s (WAPMU) 6th Annual Meeting and Review Workshop in Florida. With the theme of “Innovations in Pain Medicine,” the meeting featured a keynote address by Michael Gofeld, MD, PhD, an Ontario-based anesthesiologist and an expert in treating pain. During his talk, “The King (RFA) is Dead, Long Live the King (HIFU),” Dr. Gofeld discussed his views on how high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) will overtake radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as a standard of care.

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  • Meeting Report: Focal Therapy and Imaging in Prostate and Kidney Cancer

    The 12th International Symposium on Focal Therapy and Imaging in Prostate and Kidney Cancer was held February 9-11, 2020, in Washington, DC. The conference highlighted advances in the real-time image-guided diagnosis and treatment of prostate and kidney cancer. Its interactive scientific program included state-of-the art lectures, video demonstrations, and hands-on workshops delivered by a world-class faculty. The small sessions allowed ample opportunities for networking and exchanging opinions and experiences.

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  • Institutions Encouraged to Publish Null Results

    Improving the Trustworthiness, Usefulness, and Ethics of Biomedical Research through an Innovative and Comprehensive Institutional Initiative

    Quest Berlin 002An open science center based in Berlin recently published its experiences, approaches, and recommendations for institutions (as opposed to individual scientists) to create initiatives that improve rigor, reproducibility, and transparency in biomedical research. One such initiative pays researchers €1,000 to publish their null results.

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  • $600,000 Grant Available for Brain Cancer Research

    The Sontag Foundation is offering a Distinguished Scientist Award (DSA)to an individual with projects that show potential to advance knowledge of causes, cure, or treatment of primary brain tumors and/or brain cancer.

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  • Results of First-In-Human Focused Ultrasound Histotripsy Trial for Liver Cancer Presented

    New clinical trial data from a Phase I liver cancer study were recently presented at the Society of Interventional Oncology 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting. Timothy Ziemlewicz, MD, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, shared positive results from using the HistoSonics robotically positioned histotripsy system to destroy affected tissue in patients with primary and metastatic liver cancer.

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  • Case Study Shows Potential to Decrease Pancreatic Cancer Pain, Extend Survival

    A Case of Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer with Long-Term Survival in High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) Therapy

    A patient in Tokyo with pancreatic cancer survived more than four years while undergoing focused ultrasound in conjunction with standard systemic chemotherapy.

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  • Swiss Team Publishes New Data on Parkinson’s Disease

    MRgFUS Pallidothalamic Tractotomy for Chronic Therapy-Resistant Parkinson's Disease in 51 Consecutive Patients: Single Center Experience

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  • New Alzheimer’s Disease Trial Begins in New York

    A new clinical trial using focused ultrasound to address Alzheimer’s disease has begun at Columbia University in New York. Researchers are investigating the safety and feasibility of using a novel focused ultrasound device in combination with microbubbles to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

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  • International Registry Launched for Focused Ultrasound in Pancreatic Cancer

    The Foundation has launched a multicenter, international registry to evaluate focused ultrasound as a treatment option for patients with pancreatic cancer.

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  • Early Clinical Trial Results on Repeated Blood-brain Barrier Opening Published

    Safety and Feasibility of Multiple Blood-brain Barrier Disruptions for the Treatment of Glioblastoma in Patients Undergoing Standard Adjuvant Chemotherapy

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  • Tractography Workshop White Paper Now Available

    In August 2019, with the assistance of Ohio State University Professor of Neurological Surgery Vibhor Krishna, MBBS, the Foundation hosted an advanced imaging workshop to explore the use of tractography as a technique for focused ultrasound target visualization and treatment planning.

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  • New Platform Aims to Streamline Peer-Review Process

    Review Commons is a new service designed to simplify the peer-review of life science data and facilitate its publication. The platform’s goal is to increase transparency, speed, and efficiency of the review process.

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  • Meeting Report: Acoustical Society of America 2019

    The 178th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) was held December 2–6, 2019, in San Diego, California. Although ASA meetings cover scientific, medical, and industrial aspects of sound, several segments were of particular interest to the focused ultrasound community, including special sessions on quantitative ultrasound, phantom development, and the bioeffects of cavitation.

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  • Meeting Report: RSNA 2019

    The 105th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meetingof the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) took place December 1-6 in Chicago. The conference’s 50,000 attendees included interventional radiologists, diagnostic radiologists, researchers, and allied professionals who attended more than 400 sessions to gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology and the latest advances in the field.

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  • Notable Focused Ultrasound Article of 2019

    With 25 citations, a Todd Mainprize et al. paper in Scientific Reports was one of the most cited focused ultrasound peer-reviewed publications in 2019.

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  • Meeting Report: Society for Neuro-Oncology November Meeting Series

    Beginning on November 20, 2019, the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) sponsored a series of translational research-focused educational conferences in Phoenix, Arizona. Among others,the series included:

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  • Site Profile: Physics for Medicine Paris

    Physics for Medicine Paris was created in January 2019, under the direction of Mickael Tanter, PhD, as the result of the designation of the former research team “Wave Physics for Medicine and Biology” from Langevin Institute as an independent laboratory Inserm Unit U1273 “Physics for Medicine Paris.” Our researchers have thus worked together on the same team since 2007.

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  • HistoSonics Hosts First Annual Histotripsy Summit

    HistoSonics hosted a research workshop to formalize and celebrate its growing collaboration with the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin on September 27-28, 2019.

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  • Queensland Brain Institute Awarded $1M for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia

    The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), based at the University of Queensland (UQ), is already home to an impressive research portfolio for attacking Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on multiple fronts. Now, a partnership led by QBI has received a new infusion of funding – in the amount of $1 million – from the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) “Frontier Health and Medical Research” scheme. MRFF selected only 10 projects for the initiative’s first stage of funding, which runs for 12 months. The successful applicants from Stage One will then be invited back to compete for a multi-year investment to bring frontier medical discoveries to the public. These successful second-stage projects will represent the most ground-breaking research with the potential to save millions of lives, transform healthcare, and stimulate growth in the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Abstracts Requested for Video Journal, JoVE

    Tao Sun, PhD, a Research Fellow in Radiology at Harvard Medical School (Brigham and Women’s Hospital) is seeking abstracts to complete a video methods collection for the video journal, JoVE. The collection, “Focused ultrasound-mediated therapies for neurological disorders,” will compile videos of transcranial focused ultrasound experiments to increase transparency across the field.

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  • 2019 Groundbreaking Preclinical Research on Neuromodulation

    Neuromodulation is the reversible stimulation or suppression of neural brain activity and has been extensively studied with transcranial ultrasound stimulation (TUS). Instead of using high-intensity focused ultrasound for ablation of targets, a form of TUS can take neurons that are “sleeping” and wake them up – or take neurons that are firing too much, such as in epilepsy, and slow them down. Neuromodulation uses low-intensity, low-frequency ultrasound (LILFU) to create mild mechanical waves on cell membranes which are transmitted into electrical signals that regulate cellular functions. Until now, the exact underlying mechanisms were unclear.

    Justin Lee NeuromodulationA recent publication by Lee and colleagues has elucidated a main mechanism describing how TUS alters neuronal function entitled, “Ultrasound Neuromodulation via Astrocytic TRPA1”. It details the pathway of how LILFU alters calcium permeability in the astrocytes, supporting cells of the brain, releasing chemical neurotransmitters that in turn activate adjacent neurons. 

    Another publication by Fouragnan et al. published in Nature Neuroscience has expanded our understanding of how different brain areas influence decision making. A key difference that distinguishes this study from previous experiments is that the authors recorded neuronal activity from multiple brain areas simultaneously and during the decision making process. They found that some brain areas simply hold information, whereas others actually influence behavior. The results of this paper support individualized targeted therapy that can be tailored based on patients’ brain activity in various disease states, including anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette's syndrome.

    Photo courtesy of Lee, et. al. 

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  • Meeting Report: International Society for Medical Innovation and Technology 2019

    The annual meeting of the international Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (iSMIT) took place in Heilbronn, Germany, October 10-11, 2019. Broad and forward-looking, this meeting focused on how the evolution of medical technologies affects healthcare.

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  • Clinical Trial to Test Safety of Novel Focused Ultrasound Device for Breast Cancer Now Underway in France

    A groundbreaking clinical trialfor women with nonpalpable breast cancer is now underway at Institut Bergonié in Bordeaux, France. The pilot study is testing the safety and efficacy of a novel focused ultrasound device, called MUSE, that was designed at built by the Focused Ultrasound Laboratory at the University of Utah in collaboration with Image Guided Therapy in Bordeaux.

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  • New Trial of Focused Ultrasound in Glioblastoma: Opening the Blood-Brain Barrier for Chemotherapy

    The first patient has been treated in a US multicenter clinical trial evaluating the safety of using focused ultrasound to enhance the delivery of chemotherapy.

    This 20-patient clinical trial is using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device to temporarily and reversibly open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in glioblastoma (GBM) patients undergoing standard chemotherapy treatment.

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  • Focused Ultrasound for Glioma Featured on the Cover of "Theranostics"

    TheranosticsThe cover of the journal Theranostics recently featured research led by Nathan McDannold, PhD, in the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in collaboration with several other departments.

    In “Acoustic Feedback Enables Safe and Reliable Carboplatin Delivery Across the Blood-brain Barrier with a Clinical Focused Ultrasound System and Improves Survival in a Rat Glioma Model,”the team used the Exablate Neuro low-frequency clinical transcranial focused ultrasound system to safely, repeatedly, and reliably disrupt the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in a rat model of aggressive glioma. While the BBB was open, the team delivered a non-neurotoxic chemotherapy agent, carboplatin, to the brain in dosages that slowed tumor growth and significantly prolonged survival as compared to treatment with the drug alone.

    See Theranostics >

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  • Foundation-funded Research Update: Using Nonlinear Waves to Accelerate Thermal Ablation

    Would it be possible to improve one focused ultrasound mechanism by combining it with another? This is the question that Vera Khokhlova, PhD, and her research team at the University of Washington aimed to answer when they applied for a Foundation External Research Award.

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  • Meeting Report: Focused Ultrasound Neuromodulation Symposium 2019

    The first Focused Ultrasound Neuromodulation (FUN) Symposium was held in Oxford, England, on September 23-25.

    More than 120 leading researchers across varied disciplines, including engineers, physicists, neurobiologists, neurobehavioralists, psychologists, and clinicians, traveled to Oriel College at Oxford University. Many others watched via live streaming.

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  • Meeting Report: Italian Workshop for Focused Ultrasound in Neuroscience

    For the first time, multidisciplinary teams from five Italian sites convened to share experiences, research, and best practices in focused ultrasound for neurological disorders. More than 100 people attended the workshop – including neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuroradiologists, general practitioners, residents, and fellows in training as well as representatives from the governmental health agencies – which was organized by Cesare Gagliardo, MD, of the University of Palermo and Alessandro Napoli, MD, PhD, from La Sapienza University in Rome.

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  • September 2019 Research Roundup

    Sacroiliac Joint Ablation Using MR-HIFU

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  • Research Funding Available from American Brain Foundation

    The American Brain Foundation has announced that it is accepting applications for their 2020 Research Program Opportunities.

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  • Landmark Alzheimer’s Study Listed as One of “Top 50 Read Articles” of 2018

    A groundbreaking trial using focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer’s patients has been listed as one of Nature Communications’ Top 50 Read Articles of 2018 in the life and biological sciences category.

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  • Foundation Funded Research Update: 3D Mapping for Transcranial Histotripsy

    A team at the University of Michigan has recently completed a Foundation-funded project to develop a novel method for real-time 3D mapping of cavitation bubble clouds and the skull’s surface while applying histotripsy to the brain.

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  • FDA Approves New Focused Ultrasound Clinical Trial to Treat Deadly Brain Tumors

    French manufacturer, CarThera, recently announced that the FDA has granted approval to begin a US clinical trial of their SonoCloud-9 ultrasound device in patients with recurrent glioblastoma (GBM).

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  • Sunnybrook Awarded $1.4 Million to Treat Essential Tremor Patients

    Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto recently announced that it received $1.4 million in funding for patients with essential tremor to receive non-invasive focused ultrasound treatment.

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  • Meeting Report: WSSFN 2019

    The 18th biennial meeting of the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (WSSFN) was held June 24-27 in New York City. The Technical Director of the Foundation’s Brain Program, John Snell, PhD, attended the four-day meeting and was impressed with the number and variety of focused ultrasound presentations.

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  • July 2019 Research Roundup

    Boiling Histotripsy-induced Partial Mechanical Ablation Modulates Tumour Microenvironment by Promoting Immunogenic Cell Death of Cancers

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  • August 2019 Research Roundup

    The Neurovascular Response is Attenuated by Focused Ultrasound--mediated Disruption of the Blood-brain Barrier

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  • 2nd Quarter 2019 Research Awards Aimed to Address Difficult Medical Problems

    Three of the Foundation's research award programs announced newly funded projects for the second quarter of the year. The Cancer Immunotherapy Program selected a project that will study a new method using a combination of focused ultrasound and immunotherapy for treating recurrent ovarian and cervical cancer. The Veterinary Program funded a study to determine "time to metastasis" as an initial index of focused-ultrasound-induced systemic antitumor immune effect. The External Awards Program selected two projects that use mechanical ablation to treat brain tumors and pancreatic tumors, and one project that seeks to develop a "needle-less nerve block" technique that would noninvasively deliver pain medication for local anesthesia. Each project is described below.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Gene Delivery System for Parkinson’s Disease Earns University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins $2.5M Grant

    The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recently notified Rich Price, PhD, at the University of Virginia, and Jung Soo Suk, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) that they received a 5-year, $2.5 million “R01” research grant for their project titled “Innovative systemic gene therapy for treating Parkinson's disease.”

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  • June 2019 Research Roundup

    Delivering Focused Ultrasound to Intervertebral Discs Using Time-Reversal

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  • Essential Tremor Position Statement Published by the American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery

    The American Society for Stereotactic and Function Neurosurgery (ASSFN) recently published a new position statement on the use of focused ultrasound for the management of patients with essential tremor.

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  • Roadmap Developed for Role of Focused Ultrasound in Treating Pancreatic Cancer

    As reported earlier this year, experts gathered at the end of February and early March for a Foundation-sponsored workshop to discuss the role of focused ultrasound in treating pancreatic cancer.

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  • May 2019 Research Roundup

    Amelioration of the Nigrostriatal Pathway Facilitated by Ultrasound-mediated Neurotrophic Delivery in Early Parkinson's Disease

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  • Ohio State Joins Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial

    The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently announced the start of a clinical trial using focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The study, NCT 03671889, is also taking place at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medicine.

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  • May is Mental Health Month

    For the 70th consecutive year, Mental Health America (MHA) and its affiliates are observing May as Mental Health Month. Throughout the month, MHA will reach out through social media, local events and online mental health screenings to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. Expanding on last year’s theme of “4Mind4Body,” this year MHA will explore the topics of animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance, recreation, and social connections as ways to improve mental health and wellness.

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  • Focused Ultrasound Used to Identify Behavior-specific Regions of the Brain

    A collaborative research team from Oxford University and France’s National Institutes of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) have successfully used focused ultrasound neuromodulation to affect the memory behavior of macaque monkeys. As recently published in Nature Neuroscience, the teams – led by Jerome Sallet and Matthew Rushworth at Oxford’s Wellcome Integrative Neuroimaging laboratory in the Department of Experimental Psychology and Jean-Francois Aubry at Physics for Medicine Paris laboratory (INSERM, ESPCI, CNRS, PSL Research University) – designed and carried out experiments to test whether focused ultrasound could be used to determine which region of the brain influences decision making.

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  • Meeting Report: American Association of Neurological Surgeons

    The 87th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), which was held in San Diego, California, on April 13-17, 2019, was an excellent opportunity to highlight progress in the focused ultrasound field. More than 2,000 neurosurgeons from around the globe attended the conference, making this one of the highest profile meetings in the clinical neurosciences.

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  • Society for Neuro-Oncology to Hold Inaugural Conference on Brain Metastases

    As an ideal follow-up to the FDA’s brain metastases workshop, the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) will hold its first conference on brain metastases in August 2019.

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  • FDA and National Brain Tumor Society Sponsor Brain Metastases Workshop

    On March 22, the Foundation’s Director of Clinical Relationships, Suzanne LeBlang, MD, and more than 250 researchers, industry professionals, and patients attended a day-long workshop titled “Product Development for Central Nervous System (CNS) Metastases,” which was co-sponsored by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Brain Tumor Society.

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  • New Trial Results: Blood-brain Barrier Opening May Facilitate Drug Delivery for Glioblastoma

    French medical device start-up CarThera recently published the complete results from its Phase I/IIa clinical trial using the SonoCloud-1 ultrasound implant to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) prior to carboplatin chemotherapy in patients with recurrent glioblastoma (GBM).

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  • Brain Treatment Simulation Software Study Published

    In May 2018, Foundation scientists released Kranion®, a highly visual and interactive, open-source transcranial focused ultrasound modeling system for conducting research. Kranion® allows scientists to “see” how the paths of focused ultrasound’s invisible sound waves behave as they pass through the skull while aiming for a particular target in the brain.

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  • Meeting Report: European Congress of Radiology

    More than 30,000 radiologists from around the world (a new attendance record) gathered in Vienna from February 27 through March 3 for the 2019 European Congress of Radiology (ECR).

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  • FUS Neuromodulation Controls Metabolism, Inflammation

    Scientists at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research’s department of bioelectric medicine collaborated with colleagues at GE Research to study the use of focused ultrasound to regulate the body's metabolic and inflammatory systems.

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  • Foundation Sponsors Students to Attend Winter School on Focused Ultrasound

    In early March, veteran researchers and students across the field of focused ultrasound convened in Les Houches, France, for the 2019 Winter School on Therapeutic Ultrasound.

    Held biennially, the School offers an excellent opportunity for those early in their career to meet and connect with experts in focused ultrasound. The educational agenda included lectures from esteemed researchers in the field.

    This year, the Foundation sponsored seven students to attend the Winter School. Learn more about each student, their research, and what they found most valuable about their experience at the workshop.

    Gadi Cohen NIHGadi Cohen, PhD
    Postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research, Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health
    Current research focus: Proteomic and transcriptomic changes in tumor microenvironment of murine melanoma and breast cancer models following pulsed ultrasound treatment 
    Mentor: Joseph Frank, MD

    “As a scientist in cancer research, I use ultrasound daily and examine its therapeutic benefits. However, until participating in the Winter School, I have yet to experience such a thorough and comprehensive seminar regarding the basics of the use and theory behind this technology. The variety of high quality speakers with an obvious passion for the field gave both fascinating and highly useful talks. The tools and insight I got from these lectures are invaluable. In addition to expanding my knowledge, I also expanded my worldwide network of collaborators and friends in the field. There are a few potential collaborations that may come out of these new connections. I thank the Focused Ultrasound Foundation for this wonderful opportunity, and I hope you continue to extend this opportunity to other young scientists in the field, so they can benefit as I did.” –Gadi Cohen


    Mercado croppedJennifer M. Colón Mercado, PhD
    Post-doctoral IRTA fellow in the Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research, Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health
    Current research focus: Inflammatory response after blood-brain barrier disruption using focused ultrasound
    Mentor: Joseph Frank, MD

    “Participating in the Winter School 2019 allowed me to exchange ideas and future research directions with the leaders in the field of focused ultrasound. The Winter School provided an optimal environment to network with top researchers. The evening meetings and discussions allowed us to reflect on current and future investigations and the potential contributions to the field that could have great impact in the clinical setting. The sponsorship by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation allowed me to obtain a better understanding of ultrasound physics and the translational properties of this technology.” – Jennifer M. Colón Mercado


    Fisher croppedDelaney Fisher
    PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia
    Current research focus: Using focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier for the delivery of neurotrophic factors in models of Parkinson’s disease
    Mentor: Richard Price, PhD

    “As a first year PhD student, the extensive lectures offered during the Winter School greatly expanded my knowledge on the fundamentals of therapeutic ultrasound as well as the multitude of its applications. During the week, I was able to form connections with people from all over the world in differing areas of expertise and gain insights from them to improve our lab’s practices and considerations. Students are also encouraged to present their work at the workshop, which further fosters discussion and collaborations of those with overlapping research goals. I am incredibly grateful for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s sponsorship for me to attend this workshop. Winter School offers the opportunity to learn, demonstrate, and connect, which is important for the growth of all young researchers and, ultimately, the focused ultrasound field.” – Delaney Fisher


    WilliamGarrisonLI croppedWilliam Garrison
    PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia
    Current research focus: MRI, primarily in the contexts of lung imaging and focused ultrasound treatment assessment
    Mentor: Wilson Miller, PhD

    “Focused ultrasound medical research draws scientists from many different backgrounds, including biology, physics, engineering, and fields in between these. As trainees generally cannot be experts in all of these disciplines, it is extremely enriching for us to have the opportunity to meet and form connections with other trainees who have expertise in different fields related to focused ultrasound.” –William Garrison


    Catherine GorickGorick
    PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia
    Current research focus: Developing a platform for endothelial-selective transfection of the cerebral vasculature using focused ultrasound
    Mentor: Richard Price, PhD

    “The Winter School program facilitated many networking connections with other students as well as post-docs and professors from around the world. It also provided me with a strong education in the various physical mechanisms of ultrasound and MRI and introduced me to some different applications of these technologies with which I was not otherwise familiar. I came away from the program with some new ideas about how best to monitor cavitation during preclinical brain FUS treatments.” –Catherine Gorick


    Meng croppedYing Meng, MD
    Neurosurgery resident at the University of Toronto
    Current research focus: Investigating the biological effect of focused ultrasound blood-brain barrier opening on the brain and systemically
    Mentor: Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD

    “The 2019 Winter School provided a comprehensive program from world experts in therapeutic ultrasound. Speakers from basic and clinical research, as well as industry, offered diverse perspectives. Sponsorship of young researchers by the FUS Foundation was an invaluable opportunity to expand our knowledge, accelerate research, and network with experts from across the world in a friendly environment. In particular, I was inspired with new insight on how to approach current research challenges.” –Ying Meng


    Thim croppedAndrew Thim
    PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia
    Current research focus: Using focused ultrasound to promote anti-tumor therapeutic delivery, leukocyte adhesion and infiltration
    Mentor: Richard Price, PhD

    “The Winter School allows us to gather with like-minded individuals and learn about our field, from the mechanical to biological, in a completely immersive environment. While at the Winter School, I was able to troubleshoot my in-house built FUS system with Erik Dumont, an expert in image-guided therapy. He was able to diagnose the problem immediately after I described it. It also made me want to focus more on the technical aspect of focused ultrasound in conjunction with the biological therapy so as to make more informed therapeutic hypotheses.” –Andrew Thim


    UVA Winter School students 16x9 closeup

    Left to right: William Garrison, Andrew Thim, Catherine Gorick, Delaney Fisher

     

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  • 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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