Foundation-funded brain research is featured at ISTU meeting
Data from a pilot clinical trial and three preclinical studies – all funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Brain Program – were presented at the June 10-13, 2012 meeting of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound. In addition, the Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Director Arik Hananel, MD presented an overview on the foundation activities, programs and vision during the meeting’s “Shaping the Future of MR-guided focused ultrasound” session. Hananel also participated in a lively debate on the topic: Will MRgFUS ever be widely used?
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The Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation Council has added a new member, Dr. Aaron Stern, who was trained as a physician and educator. Dr. Stern accomplished his psychiatric training at Yale University and his training in Psychoanalytic Medicine at Columbia University where he attained professorial rank and was appointed a Training Analyst. He served as a member of the Committee on Professional Education of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Stern also received a PhD from Columbia University where he focused his work upon the methodology of science and empirical studies of child development.
Matt Eames, PhD, senior project engineer for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation's Brain Program, filed this report from Heidelberg, Germany where he is attending the annual conference of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU):
A special highlight of the 2012 International Society of Therapeutic Ultrasound meeting was yesterday’s (June 12, 2012) presentation of the Fred Lizzi Early Career Award and the William and Frank Fry Award for outstanding contributions to therapeutic ultrasound. This year’s Lizzi Award was shared by two researchers, Constantin Coussios, PhD (University of Oxford, UK) and Nathan McDannold, PhD (Harvard University, USA). The Fry Award recipient was Gail ter Haar, PhD (Institute of Cancer Research, UK).
Following ISTU tradition, last year's award recipients delivered the Lizzi Award Lecture and Fry Award Lecture. Jean-Francois Aubry, PhD (Institut Langevin, France) delivered the Lizzi Lecture. His talk was entitled, "The Matrix," and described the optimal refocusing of an ultrasound wavefront through aberrating layers, with both transcranial and transcostal examples. In the Fry Award Lecture, Kullervo Hynynen, PhD (University of Toronto, Canada) delivered a lecture on the historical perspective on FUS, and closed with the conclusion that FUS needs clinical champions to achieve success as a fully reimbursed and accepted treatment modality.
Sonothrombolysis was a featured topic at the Sunday, June 10 session. Clot lysis research funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation was presented by Stephen Monteith, MD of the University of Virginia. Monteith, who uses the InSightec ExAblate system, described his success lysing blood clots in an in-vitro experimental setup and how this led to a pre-clinical trial involving the treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in pigs. Dr. Monteith went on to present preliminary results from the lysis of ICH blood clots in a human cadaveric model.
Also of note was a persuasive argument from Dr. Bill Culp of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to move towards clinical trials for ischemic stroke. There was also a presentation from Cerevast on their upcoming Phase III clinical trial for a battery-powered, unfocused ultrasonic head transducer to enhance tPA delivery and/or provide more expedient, ambulance-based treatment to stroke patients. More information on this study may be found on ClinicalTrials.gov.
In honor of Israel's 64th birthday, the online news magazine ISRAEL21c spotlighted the country's 64 top innovations, including InSightec's ExAblate MR-guided focused ultrasound system. Responding to the news, InSightec's President and Chief Executive Officer Kobi Vortman, PhD wrote to his collegues, "As part of the exceptional InSightec team, we are all pushing the state of the art with a vision that we will help millions of people that desperately need help. Innovation, hard work, dedication and perseverance by all of you made it happen. It is a great honor, that on Independence Day, we were selected to be one of the top all-time 64 innovations." Read news story.
Celsion Corporation and Philips Healthcare have resubmitted an Investigational New Drug/ Investigational Device Exemption application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a Phase II patient study. The trial will evaluate a combined therapy using Celsion's liposome encapsulated drug, ThermoDox, and the Philips Sonalleve MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound system for the treatment of prostate cancer metastasizes to the bone. The study is set to launch following FDA acceptance of the proposed program. Read press release.
A neurosurgery team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto has successfully treated the first patient enrolled in a clinical trial assessing focused ultrasound as a therapy for essential tremor. Funded by the Foundation, the study is open to residents of Canada and is expected to treat six patients. For more information, contact research coordinator Karen Ng at 416-790-0809.
The Foundation recently received a $1 million unrestricted gift from a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous and hopes others will also get involved.
"I am inspired by the impact being made by the Foundation and am delighted that my gift has the potential to improve life for millions of people," the donor said. "Focused ultrasound represents a revolution in noninvasive medicine, and I encourage others to join me in helping accelerate the Foundation's momentum."
If you are interested in supporting the Foundation, contact Kimberly Skelly at 434-326-9830 or
A team led by Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD at Stanford University has received a $100,000 research award from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation to develop an innovative early detection technique for tumor masses. The approach will use focused ultrasound to facilitate the release and detection of blood biomarkers.
Billy R. Williams is proud to be the first patient in the world to receive focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor. A year after his procedure, which marked the beginning of the ground-breaking pilot clinical trial at the University of Virginia, he reports being "very, very happy" with treatment results. In a video interview, Williams and UVA neurological physical therapist Diane Huss, PhD, say that some tremor has returned but is being managed by a small and well-tolerated drug dose.
A special gathering hosted by the Foundation in April honored the 15 patients treated last year during the essential tremor clinical trial at the University of Virginia. Dubbed the "First 15," the celebratory event was attended by patients, their families and friends, by members of UVA's neurosurgical clinical team, and by Foundation staff, directors and donors. To commemorate the event, patients received individually numbered t-shirts and a book inscribed by best-selling author and Foundation board member John Grisham. Representatives of the public/private partners that created UVA's Focused Ultrasound Center – the site of the study – addressed the group: Jeff Elias, MD and Diane Huss, PhD of UVA; Neal Kassell, MD of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation; William Howell, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates; and Eyal Zadicario of InSightec. Catherine S. Rice, Executive Director of the International Essential Tremor Foundation, also spoke.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (May 22, 2012) – Edward D. Miller, MD, chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, a $6.5 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the nation’s premier health care systems, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Dr. Miller is also dean of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and serves as the university’s vice president for medicine.
“We are honored to welcome Dr. Miller to our Board of Directors,” said Neal F. Kassell, MD, chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “The perspective, insights and experience he offers as CEO of one of the world’s most prestigious and successful healthcare systems will be invaluable in helping the Foundation advance focused ultrasound therapies into mainstream clinical use.”
AANS Neurosurgeon, Volume 21, Number 2, 2012
In this interview, which was conducted by University of Virginia neurosurgeon Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, FAANS, Dr. Kassell describes his career accomplishments, including the founding of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ and CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA – May 1, 2012 – Celsion Corporation (NASDAQ: CLSN) and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation announced today their support for preclinical studies designed to explore the use of ThermoDox®, Celsion’s Phase III, proprietary, heat-activated liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin, in combination with MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The studies are being conducted at the University of Washington School of Medicine by Joo Ha Hwang, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Endoscopic Research, Associate Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor of Bioengineering and Radiology.
As Dennis Parker, PhD and his colleagues at the University of Utah continue to refine and advance their new HIFU system for breast tumors, they have also joined forces with Swiss and French researchers to solve the technical problems of measuring temperature changes during focused ultrasound treatments.
In designing their system, the Utah team has come up against significant technical challenges. For example, they had to determine how to measure temperature changes in fatty tissues, adjust for motion-related errors and cover larger volumes at acceptable spatial and temporal resolution. Their quest for solutions led to a collaboration with University of Geneva researchers who are addressing similar problems in developing a HIFU system for liver tumors. The Foundation supported this collaboration through a $100,000 Research Award for a project entitled, “Robust MR thermometry for MRgHIFU in breast and liver.” (Click here to read a previous newsletter report about that project.)
Known as a luminary in medical imaging, Dennis L. Parker, PhD is currently devoting much of his time to focused ultrasound. Parker, a professor of Radiology at the University of Utah and Director of the Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research (UCAIR), is co-leading the development of a high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) system for breast tumors.
The project’s origins trace back to 2003 when Utah purchased its first MRI scanner from Siemens. “Because the Siemens MRI scanner was very open as far as its software architecture, our students were able to very, very quickly establish a closed feedback loop feeding images out of the scanner into the ultrasound controlling computer that we had at the time,” Parker recalls. This led to the development of a closed-loop MRI guided focused ultrasound system.
“When Siemens came to visit in 2004, they actually decided to pick up that project and provided some funding,” he notes. At the time, Image Guided Therapy (IGT), a French medical device maker, had just designed a phased-array focused ultrasound transducer.
“Siemens purchased that device and placed it in Utah as IGT’s first large animal focused ultrasound system,” Parker adds. “Ever since that time, we’ve been working with them.”
By 2006, Parker and his collaborators decided that the best candidate site for their system would be the breast, and they applied for funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop a prototype. “It was an academic/industrial partnership,” he says. “We were very lucky. We were funded on the first submittal, which is very rare, but we were delighted.”
His collaborators on the project represent numerous disciplines and several departments at the University of Utah. In addition to Parker, the team includes Robert B. Roemer, PhD from Mechanical Engineering; Douglas Christensen, PhD from Bioengineering; Allison Payne, PhD, Rock Hadley, PhD, Emilee Minalga, PhD, Robb Merrill, PhD and Nick Todd, PhD from UCAIR; Leigh Neumayer, MD from Surgery/Oncology; and many students.
New breast system has unique features
Utah’s system, says Parker, “has a lot of capabilities not found in other breast HIFU systems.” Unique features include the placement of the focused ultrasound transducer. Mounted on flexible bellows made of PlastiDip (an idustrial grade fabrication material), the transducer can be moved into and out of the treatment cylinder as needed. Also unique is that the transducer shoots laterally. The system has a small water box in which the breast is suspended. That box has an array of radio frequency coils around it. According to Parker, this provides “image quality from the MR side [that] is actually very, very good.”
The system’s other major components are an MR-compatible ultrasound generator made by IGT and a Siemens MRI scanner.
Now in prototype form, the system has been tested on phantoms and samples. “From the standpoint of something that could ultimately be used to treat breast cancer, I think this is an excellent potential device,” Parker says. “The advantage of HIFU for breast cancer is that it’s totally noninvasive. It has the opportunity eventually to totally eradicate the disease without any surgical intervention at all.”
A patent application has been filed for the system and further improvements are planned. “There are many problems that still need to be solved,” he notes. “Measuring temperature in fat, which is a major component of breast tissue, has not been solved yet by others. We’ve got a good technique that is starting to work and we’re optimistic that with all these little pieces it’ll be a good system.”
The team, says Parker, will seek funding to develop modifications that improve image quality and enable the system to treat more aspects of breast disease. “Our new design should be able to treat much more of the disease, including many metastatic lesions,” he notes.
Written by Ellen C., McKenna
In its April 23, 2012 edition, the Boston Globe spotlighted the work being done at the University of Virginia and Brigham and Women's Hospital to advance focused ultrasound treatments for the brain. Click here to read the report, "Brain surgery that’s not invasive."
A study published in this month's Lancet has received a lot of media attention, getting recogniztion in such outlets as the Time, UK Telegraph, Businessweek, Marketwatch, and more.
The study, Focal therapy for localised unifocal and multifocal prostate cancer: a prospective development study, details the results of 42 patients treated with the Sonoblate HIFU system in their phase 2 clinical trial.
Our annual progress report on the activities of the Foundation and the advancing field of focused ultrasound has been released.
While many cases of ET are mild, according to Neal Kassell, MD, chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, some patients suffer severely ... http://www.agingwellmag.com/news/ex_040312.shtml
Research activities at the Foundation’s first Center of Excellence, located at the University of Virginia, have once again made national news. The Center’s Research DirectorRichard J. Price, PhD and his collaborator at Johns Hopkins University,Justin Hanes, PhD, have received a $3.3 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The grant will enable the researchers to continue developing new, focused ultrasound-mediated treatments that deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), the membrane that prevents foreign substances – such as chemotherapies – from entering the brain.
Watching patients suffer from metastatic prostate cancer motivatedSarfraz Ahmad, MBBS, PhD, MRCSI, MRCSEd to pursue a career in urological surgery. His belief in focused ultrasound’s ability to help those patients propelled him to apply for a two-year Foundation fellowship, which he received in August 2011.
In his fellowship application, Ahmad wrote: “I truly believe that treatment based on the principles of ultrasound energy has a great future. This is not only a minimally invasive intervention but also can be repeated without any significant side effects. This is in contrast to current treatment options such as radiotherapy and use of opoids as pain killers. I am committed to academic urology with a focus on MRgHIFU treatment in localised and metastatic prostate cancer treatment.”
Kobi Vortman, PhD:
“In Honor to David I would like to add my impressions from interacting with David. David had a very unique approach to analyzing problems and building a logical concept to contain and resolve issues. When we first met and I had the honor to give him a briefing on MR guided focused ultrasound it was my first experience with the way David functioned: at some point in time he decided that MRgFUS makes sense and could help sick people, then he turned his attention to what could accelerate the transformation of this technology from vision to lab and to the patient bedside. It started with the FUSF but didn’t stop there. What was unique to David is his willingness to get involved and push the barriers personally to shorten time.
Executive Perspective: Falko Busse, PhD, Philips Healthcare
Asian markets are leading the adoption of focused ultrasound, reports Falko Busse, PhD, vice president and general manager of MR-HIFU for Philips Healthcare.
Epilepsy Research UK reports that Ultrasound 'researched as epilepsy treatment.'
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, March 7, 2012 -- The Focused Ultrasound Foundation announced today that medical research activist, philanthropist and financier Michael Milken has joined its Council, a select group of advisors and advocates who are helping to advance the organization’s mission. A champion of medical innovations since the 1970’s, Milken will support the Foundation in accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound therapies for many of today’s most devastating illnesses.
John Grisham, a novelist known worldwide for more than 20 best-selling legal thrillers, will be the keynote speaker at the 3rd International Symposium on the Current and Future Applications of Focused Ultrasound on October 14-17, 2012 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Grisham serves on the Board of Directors of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, which is hosting the symposium to highlight advances for the global research and clinical community.
Remarkably successful in the world of finance, Focused Ultrasound Foundation board member David B. Heller is President of Advisory Research Inc., a Chicago-based securities firm that he founded in 1974. ARI, which manages $5.2 billion in assets for individual and institutional investors, specializes in value investing. Simply put, this approach is based on the ability to recognize the potential or true value of an asset long before others do.
Fortunately for the Foundation, Heller’s interest in areas of high potential extends beyond his professional life. Several years ago, he and his wife, Diane, met Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD at the University of Virginia where their daughter was being treated for a recurring benign brain tumor. At the time, the Hellers were frustrated by the lack of treatment options available to their daughter. When Kassell described the nascent, noninvasive medical technology called focused ultrasound, the Hellers quickly recognized its potential.
Executive perspective: Interview with Jacques Coumans, PhD (GE Healthcare)
MR-guided focused ultrasound has entered a crucial period in terms of adoption,says Jacques Coumans, PhD, general manager for premium and interventional MRI at GE Healthcare. The pressing challenge, he says, is to “cross the chasm to mainstream clinical use” by expanding the number of sites by tenfold.
Noting that there are now about 150 MR-guided focused ultrasound sites worldwide, Coumans explains, “We often call this the academic bolus range.” He says that more than 1,000 sites will be needed to achieve successful adoption of the technology.
Optimistic about the future, Coumans adds, “I would characterize the field of MR-guided focused ultrasound in the following way: in five years, we will all wake up stating that the overnight success of MR-guided focused ultrasound was 15 years in the making.”
Although the technology was pioneered primarily at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston more than a decade ago, the adoption of MR-guided focused ultrasound is happening faster outside of the United States. Coumans believes this trend is due to fewer regulatory and reimbursement hurdles in other countries.
“One of the big advantages of MR-guided focused ultrasound could be that the quality of care is significantly improved, but one of the hurdles that we see is the cost associated with it. Obviously, having an MR machine with a very expensive option called focused ultrasound increases the cost of a procedure. Certainly here in the west – in the United States, in particular – there are regulatory and reimbursement hurdles that are very significant and take a long time to sort out.”
There are also practical issues to address as more focused ultrasound therapies are introduced: who does the procedure and who owns the patient? Coumans foresees focused ultrasound expanding beyond radiology. The most likely users are oncologists and interventionists, he says.
Coumans has worked in the field of MRI since 1985 and has been following MR-guided focused ultrasound since its inception. GE supplies the MR scanner for InSightec’s ExAblate system, which has received CE-marking for treating uterine fibroids, adenomyosis and metastatic bone tumors. The system is also approved in the U.S. for the treatment of uterine fibroids.
“I think MR-guided focused ultrasound is an intellectually incredibly appealing combination of two modalities,” Coumans asserts. “The fact that you can [use it to] non-invasively treat and non-invasively deposit [drugs] is something that was not thought of 20 years ago. Non-invasive or minimally invasive therapies are the thing of the future, and patient centricity and humanizing radiology really stand in the forefront of why MR-guided focused ultrasound has this appeal for patients as well as for physicians.”
According to Coumans, “It’s not so much just the focus on focused ultrasound, it’s the focus on using MRI to guide therapy because of its extreme suitedness to get soft tissue contrast properly portrayed and to follow up treatments over time,” he explains.
Commenting on growing competition in the focused ultrasound marketplace, Coumans calls it a positive development. Intellectual competition, clinical case studies, multimodality and multicenter trials contribute to growth. “Any industry benefits from competition,” he notes. “We welcome it.” - Written by Ellen C., McKenna
At RSNA 2011, Jack Coumans talks about the MR Patient Experience Suite –
Yoav Medan, Chief Systems Architect of InSightec and Visiting Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering at the Technion Institute of Technology, was interviewed for the Discovery Channel's online video content channel called Curiosity.Com in a series of videos about focused ultrasound.
In an effort that is being led by Dr. Larry Crum, a member of the Foundation's Research Advisory Committee, a new technique is being developed to use focused ultrasound to position kidney stones into better placement so that the body can pass them.
Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK has spun off a private comapny called 'Acublate Limited' which will be developing a HIFU device used to treat various types of solid tumors. Initially, the Acublate device will treat patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.
Dr Keith Blundy, CRT's CEO, said: "We're delighted to be able to take the research into this exciting technology that Cancer Research UK helped fund onto the next stage. The HIFU technology currently approved for clinical use in the UK specifically targets prostate cancer but we hope the Acublate device will be able to treat most solid tumour types."
Read the press release here:
During a 2-minute interview with Sany Hausman of Virginia Public Radio, FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD provided an update on focused ultrasound development and research activities at the University of Virginia and at sites around the world. He noted that the technology has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of unterine fibroids, but that insurance companies have yet to routinely cover focused ultrasound treatments.
Click here to listen to the interview:
FUS Foundation Research Awardrecipient Lili Chen, PhD has published a second paper related to her preclinical studies of focused ultrasound’s ability to enhance the delivery of chemotherapy to advanced prostate tumors. Entitled, “MR-guided pulsed high intensity focused ultrasound enhancement of docetaxel combined with radiotherapy for prostate cancer treatment,” the paper appears in the January 21, 2012, issue (Vol. 57, No. 2) of Physics in Medicine and Biology. Chen, who is an associate professor and medical physicist in the Radiation Oncology Department of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, published her first paper in the November 2010 issue of that same journal.
This month’s featured focused ultrasound researcher, Urvi Vyas, PhD, has made important contributions in the area of ultrasound beam propagation. Realizing that many newsletter readers may not be familiar with this process, we asked, Matthew Eames, PhD, a biomedical engineer and Senior Project Engineer for the FUS Foundation Brain Program, to provide an explanation. Here’s what he wrote:
Researcher interview: Urvi Vyas, PhD, Stanford University
A highlight of the FUS Foundation’s 2010 International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound was the presence of our Young Investigators, ten early-career scientists selected to present their work during oral or poster sessions. The spirit and enthusiasm of these individuals provided a special spark that energized the entire symposium.
During a recent interview, one of those Young Investigators – Urvi Vyas, PhD – provided an update on her focused ultrasound activities. The excitement and positive expectancy with which she spoke were truly inspirational.
Vyas, who is now a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, earned her PhD in bioengineering at the University of Utah. Professionally, her main interests are ultrasound beam propagation and MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery. Like many of the unsung heroes in the field of focused ultrasound, she is working behind the scenes to address technical issues and challenges that will make new patient treatments possible.
What is ultrasound beam propagation? Click here to find out.
After completing her undergraduate degree in bioengineering at Shree Govindram Institute of Technology and Science in India, Vyas joined Utah’s bioengineering program where she helped develop an NIH-funded focused ultrasound system for breast cancer. That project enabled her to learn from three individuals she describes as mentors: ultrasound expert Douglas Christensen, PhD,MR leader Dennis Parker, PhD, and biothermal specialist Robert Roemer, PhD.
“I think this is an exciting field because you need so many people to come together to make a system work. You need temperature measurements. You need the ultrasound to work. You need to control the ultrasound. Not only that, you need to control the heating and so you need somebody that knows the bioheat transfer equation,” Vyas observes.
Focused ultrasound system for the breast
In creating a focused ultrasound system for the breast, the Utah team had to break new ground in a number of areas: measuring temperature in the breast, planning patient treatments and designing a transducer. “Where I came in was the ultrasound part of all of this,” says Vyas.
She worked on developing fast simulations for ultrasound beam propagation. “We went from a time scale of a couple of hours to simulate one beam propagation pattern to a few seconds. This was on a grad student laptop, so this was really exciting. Once we had that working, we could then design patient-specific treatment plans. We’d take an MR image of the patient and then design a treatment plan that would fit this particular patient,” she explains.
After helping to reduce treatment planning time, Vyas got involved in designing an ultrasound transducer for the breast. “We designed various configurations and figured out that the side-shooting transducer would work best for the breast,” she says.
Her next task was using fast beam propagation simulation to solve an inverse problem. “In the forward problem, I can simulate where the beam is going to be. I can also do the inverse problem. I can see the temperature and figure out what the tissue properties for this particular person are because it’s very hard to measure acoustic properties of a human being without cutting the human being open,” she says.
Solving the inverse problem lead to a first-time in vivo study in which the Utah team demonstrated that the acoustic properties of muscle could be measured noninvasively with focused ultrasound. This work qualified Vyas for the FUS Foundation’s Young Investigator Award and for an award from the Society for Thermal Medicine.
At Stanford, Vyas is working with Kim Butts Pauly, PhD, a leader in MR thermometry. Her energies are now being directed to correcting trans-cranial phase aberration. “When you put the ultrasound beam through the skull, there are a lot of aberrations because of the skull having different thicknesses,” Vyas explains. “The plan is to use the acoustic radiation force imaging and figure out how to better correct these aberrations in the brain.”
Although the clinical applications of this approach have not yet been determined, Vyas hopes it will be widely useful. “I think what we want to do is give the field a very efficient, fast way of doing phase aberration correction and just share it with everybody,” she says.
Vyas is inspired by the thought of patients benefitting from her work. “When you’re in a lab typing code on a computer, you don’t realize what it may lead to,” she says. Attending the FUS Foundation’s recent Brain Workshop gave her a glimpse of the impact her work could have on patients. There, she heard doctors talking about treatment envelopes based on simulations she helped develop. “These treatments are going to be in clinics really soon, and it’s very exciting,” she exclaims.
The FUS Foundation’s Research Award Program has received a major funding boost from a $1 million commitment recently made by the Robertson Foundation.
“We are delighted and honored to gain the support of the Robertson Foundation and are completely aligned with its targeted, disciplined, results-oriented approach to philanthropy,” says FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD. “This funding will enable us to advance our mission by investing in highly worthy and promising research projects in the field of focused ultrasound.”
The positive energy surrounding the field of focused ultrasound has reached unprecedented levels. During the last 60 days, recognition inTIMEmagazine and viewership of the TEDMED video have caused “an explosion in public awareness of the promise and potential of this revolutionary technology,” according to FUS Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. As a result, he says, demand for rapid development of focused ultrasound treatments is greater than ever before.
Kassell expects momentum to continue building in the year ahead. “The pace is definitely accelerating. We anticipate that 2012 will be a year of significant developments, especially in the clinical arena,” he notes.
A comprehensive and up-to-date list of focused ultrasound sites with links to investigators and projects has been posted on a newly-designed section of the FUS Foundation’s website.
“By making this information available, FUSF aims to increase transparency and foster global collaboration within the research community,” explains Heather Huff-Simonin, MBA, director of Global Business Development.
She invites research sites to review the information posted about their activities and personnel to ensure that it is accurate and complete. Click here to access the new webpage
In a recent email, Matthias Matzko, MD, head of Interventional and Diagnostic Radiology at Amper Kliniken AG in Dachau, Germany wrote, “We are proud to announce that we passed the 500th treatment in total for uterine fibroid ablation with MRgFUS last week. With the new ExAblate ONE System, we already have the experience of more than 230 treatments with a significant higher rate of success with this new technology in comparison to the old system ExAblate 2000.”
New FUS Foundation initiative will advance focused ultrasound therapies for liver and pancreatic tumors
To better support patients’ needs and advance the foundation’s mission of accelerating the development and adoption of clinical indications, the FUS Foundation is transitioning the work of its Focal Drug Delivery Program to two other initiatives.
The last of 15 patients was treated in mid-December in the world’s first clinical trial using MR-guided focused ultrasound as a therapy for essential tremor. The single-site pilot study, which has been funded by the FUS Foundation, began in February 2011 at the University of Virginia with neurosurgeon W. Jeffrey Elias, MD serving as principal investigator.
All study participants are being followed for three-months, and final clinical trial data is expected to be available in March 2012. Elias will present that data at the 2012 American Association of Neurosurgeons meeting, scheduled for April 14-19.
Preliminary study data, which was presented by Elias at the 2011 Congress of Neurological Surgeons meeting in October, was highly promising. The study’s first 10 patients experienced a 78 percent improvement in contralateral tremor scores in their dominant hand, as assessed with the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST). Patients’ functional activities scores improved by 92 percent, as measured in the ‘Disability’ subsection of the CRST. Elias said that outcomes and complications were comparable to other procedures for tremor, including stereotactic thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation.
Focused ultrasound is theme of January 2012 Neurosurgical Focus
Selection brings FUS to the attention of the neurosurgical community
Focused ultrasound is the theme of the January 2012 issue of Neurosurgical Focus, a peer-reviewed, online publication produced by the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS) Publishing Group which is the scholarly publication arm of the American Association of Neurosurgeons.
Free to the public, Neurosurgical Focus is considered a state-of-the-art 'textbook chapter' in the field of neurosurgery. “Having focused ultrasound selected as a topic is significant. It indicates that the JNS considers FUS to be a topic that is sufficiently developed and important enough to devote an issue to it,” explains John Snell, PhD, technical director of the FUS Foundation’s Brain Program. “While the recent coverage in TIME Magazine highlighted the technology to a general audience, this issue of Neurosurgical Focus will bring focused ultrasound to the attention of the neurosurgical community. This further underscores that we have turned a corner with the technology.”
The January 2012 Neurological Focus can be accessed at: http://thejns.org/toc/foc/32/1
Ronit Machtinger, MD has completed a FUS Foundation-funded, two-year, part-time fellowship at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BMH) in Boston, MA, USA. Her fellowship mentors were Clare Tempany, MD and Fiona Fennessy, MD.
An Israeli gynecologist, Machtinger will return to Sheba Medical Center next summer, where she will resume her gynecology practice and continue her work in focused ultrasound. In the meantime, she is completing a research fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at BWH and is writing a book chapter with Fennessy about focused ultrasound treatment of uterine fibroids.
Audio/slide presentations by W. Jeffrey Elias, MD and his clinical team at the University of Virginia are now available for viewing on the FUS Foundation website. These talks provide a wealth of background information and were given at a special event organized in September 2011 by the Essential Tremor Support Group in Charlottesville, Virginia. Presentations are listed in the order in which they were given at the event.
By Thomas Gentile, President and CEO of GE Healthcare
The following article is reprinted with permission from GE Healthcare.
When I was in India a few months ago, I first came across an exciting technology called Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS). A doctor there was doing investigational research with it to evaluate its use in ablations of tumors.
Start-up French device maker, Theraclion, continues to break new clinical ground with its TH-One ultrasonic ablation system. Last month, the company announced early success in the noninvasive treatment of patients with breast fibroadenomas, which are benign tumors that affect about one in ten women and are especially problematic for those under 30 years old.
Leading-edge facility will advance work in image-guided therapeutics and technology development
By Eleni Kanavas, Communications Coordinator, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Canada
Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) officially opened its biomedical imaging research suite on November 10, 2011. The event was part of SRI’s second annual research day for the Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics (CeRIGT).
In a demonstration of how gripping the technology is and the excitement building behind focused ultrasound, the video posted on the TED site has received over 100,000 views in it's first 5 days of posting.
In addition to watching the video, be sure to check out the commentary below the video on the TED site with lots of great questions and answers between interested viewers and the presenter, Yoav Medan.
TEDMED has released the full presentation given by Yoav Medan on focused ultrasound at TEDMED 2011.
Also, this talk has been released on the TED site as well!
"Can non-invasive surgery ever become the norm? Medan shows how an MR guided, focused ultrasound technique works instead, and its potential for faster recovery times and new cures."
Also, there was a 2 minute follow up question and answer session with Yoav at the end of his talk.
The visibility of focused ultrasound is skyrocketing. TIME Magazine has named it one of the 50 most inspired ideas, innovations and revolutions of 2011. In its coverage, TIME heralds MR-imaging and focused ultrasound "remarkable in their own right"and observes that "something life-changing" emerges when the two are combined.
Researcher interview: Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Focused ultrasound researcher, Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, is driven by a desire to help people with brain disorders. As leader of the Neuromodulation Working Group formed by the FUS Foundation’s Brain Program, he is collaborating with a multinational, multi-disciplinary team consisting of 27 specialists in neuroscience, physics, biomedical engineering and imaging. Their goal is to determine how pulsed, low intensity focused ultrasound can be used to assess region-specific brain functions and to modify and control aberrant brain activities.
Nearly 80 leading scientists, researchers, public health officials and industry executives from 12 countries and 30 different institutions participated in the FUS Foundation’s third invitational Brain Workshop from October 23 to 26.
With 46 presentations on the agenda, this year’s workshop provided an in-depth progress report on the status of the Brain Program and the work ahead. As FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD told attendees, “Our primary interest is to rapidly advance the development and adoption of reimbursable applications that either fulfill an unmet clinical need or are significantly better than existing therapies in terms of outcomes, cost and convenience.”
The organization Medtech Insight just released a report with an overview of the field of image guided focused ultrasound and the Foundation has obtained the rights to make this article available to visitors of our website.
It's an excellent overview of the field, the current and potential applications of focused ultrasound, and features an interview with the Chairman of the Foundation, Dr. Neal Kassell.
To download this report please click here.
UPDATE:Videos from the presentation at TEDMED 2011 have now been released!
InSightec notified the Foundation with the following information this afternoon:
"This morning, California time, Dr. Yoav Medan, Chief Systems Architect of InSightec,delivered an invited talk on MRgFUS at TEDMED 2011 in San Diego.
Well-known focused ultrasound researcher Nathan McDannold, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, is scheduled to discuss the use of MR-guided focused ultrasound in delivering cancer drugs across the blood-brain barrier at the Society of Neuro-Oncology Annual Meeting, scheduled for November 17-20 in Orange County, California. This year's meeting is being held in conjunction with the AANS/CNS Section on Tumors.McDannold's talk, entitled, "MRgFUS induced blood brain barrier disruption and novel drug delivery for brain tumors," is scheduled for presentation during the society's Education Day on November 17."This is the first time that SNO has included a discussion about MRgFUS in its annual meeting,"said Jason Sheehan, MDa neurosurgeon who is co-chair of Education Day and co-director of the Focused Ultrasound Center at the University of Virginia. ”We're hoping that this will help educate participants about the emerging role of MR-guided FUS in neuro-oncology."
Patient profile: John WattersonRecently, FUSF Director of Development Kimberly Skelly was delighted to receive the following unsolicited letter:
Since installing an ExAblate 2100 system in May 2010, Sapienza University of Rome has emerged as a driving force for the European focused ultrasound community. Within six months of opening, its clinical team had treated 15 patients with uterine fibroids and was involved in clinical trials for prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer. In fact, the center was the first in the world to use MR-guided focused ultrasound to provide pain palliation for patients with primary pancreatic cancer.
By Joy Polefrone, PhD, Focal Drug Delivery Program Director
Inspired by the FUS Foundation’s symposia in 2008 and 2010, the Sapienza University of Rome organized the 1st European Symposium on Focused Ultrasound Therapy. Held from September 22-23, the meeting was a great success with more than 200 people present. Program content was excellent and covered current and future applications of both MR-guided and ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound technology. The agenda included three invited presentations by FUS Foundation staff members and spotlighted some of our funded researchers as well.
By Neil Glossop, FUS Foundation Consultant
Held in Munich, Germany from September 10 to 14, the 2011 meeting of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) brought together researchers and clinicians in interventional applications from all over the world. The strength and commitment of this community was signified by the number of delegates in attendance – 6,164, a new record – and the number of abstracts submitted – 1,413.
The FUS Foundation-funded clinical trial at the University of Virginia attained a new milestone this month when its principal investigator, W. Jeffrey Elias, MD, presented preliminary study findings at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons meeting in Washington, DC.
Results to date show that the study’s first 10 patients had a 78 percent improvement in tremor scores in their hand, as assessed with the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST). Their functional activities scores improved by 92 percent, as measured in the ‘Disability’ subsection of the CRST. Elias said that outcomes and complications were comparable to other procedures for tremor, including stereotactic thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation.
Fibroid Relief, the FUS Foundation's patient support initiative, has launched a renovated web site to improve its ability to educate women about MR-guided focused ultrasound as a non-invasive treatment option for uterine fibroids.
In October of 2008, the Foundation launched Fibroid Relief to fill an information void for patients with uterine fibroids. Through public events and its website, this initiative has become a vital and respected source of information about uterine fibroid treatment options, including MR-guided focused ultrasound.
Patient enrollment is underway for the first US-based study comparing MR-guided focused ultrasound and uterine artery embolization (UAE) for the treatment of uterine fibroids. The study, called The Fibroid Interventions: Reducing Symptoms Today and Tomorrow (FIRSTT) trial, is now open at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and at Duke University in Durham, NC. Study participants will be randomly assigned for treatment with either FUS or UAE.
Expected to provide important insights regarding the benefits and potential drawbacks of newer non-surgical treatment approaches for uterine fibroids, the study will follow patients for three years. Its goal is to assess how effective treatments are in symptom relief, side effects, impact on women's quality of life, need for additional treatment, potential for future fertility and even the costs associated with each approach.
The FUS Foundation's Center of Excellence Program is preparing to expand. Our next designated site will soon be announced and embody the same multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach and commitment to pushing the R&D envelope as found at our first Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence, which celebrated its second anniversary this month.
Many readers of this newsletter know about TEDMED, the annual high-profile, mover and shaker event. It brings together a roster of health, information and technology professionals and pioneers who share their personal stories and spotlight developments and ideas that are shaping healthcare's future. Key goals of TEDMED are to give thought leaders from various disciplines and industries an opportunity to learn from each other and to collectively address major problems in healthcare.
"Visiting the center was like taking a journey into the future of healthcare. Its an amazing facility, organized around the concept of personalized medicine. The therapeutic goal is to create a positive and memorable experience for the patient," Huff-Simonin says.
Opened in October 2010, the center was created by Kwang Yul Cha, MD, the founder and head of CHA Health Systems. CHA currently operates a global network of healthcare facilities that includes Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, 12 general hospitals in Korea and two fertility treatment and anti-aging research centers in the US and Korea.
Elizabeth Stewart, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, USA, was recently honored for her research on MR-guided focused ultrasound therapy and its effects on future fertility in women with uterine fibroids. On September 8, the Royan Institute – a non-profit, non-governmental research institute in Tehran, Iran – presented Stewart with a Royan International Research Award in the category of Female Infertility and Reproductive Imaging.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (Sept. 20, 2011) – The Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS) Foundation has announced the selection of Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD of Imperial College and Saint Mary's Hospital in London as Honorary President of the 3rd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound.
A consultant radiologist, Gedroyc is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the development of noninvasive patient treatments using MR-guided focused ultrasound. Much of Gedroyc's ground-breaking work has involved the treatment of uterine fibroids and abdominal conditions such as pancreatic and liver tumors. He is currently investigating a focused ultrasound application to alleviate the severe back pain associated with facet joint disease.
Gedroyc anticipates that the 2012 symposium will showcase and contribute to the escalating progress of preclinical research and new clinical applications. "I hope that symposium attendees will gain a huge insight into the full range of applications that focused ultrasound can provide to them and, therefore, to their patients," he said.
Click here to view Gedroyc's video announcement about the 2012 symposium.
FUS Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, noted, "We are delighted to have Professor Gedroyc serving as Honorary President. He is a preeminent clinician and thought-leader who has been a driving force in the field of therapeutic ultrasound. We deeply appreciate his accomplishments and applaud the vision and values that have shaped his work."
The 3rd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound will be held October 14- 17, 2012 in Bethesda, MD, USA. Organized by the FUS Foundation, it is a premier event for the worldwide community of scientists, clinicians and others interested in current and future applications of an emerging and highly promising medical technology, MR-guided focused ultrasound.
The symposium's three-day agenda will spotlight leading edge preclinical, translational and clinical research and address issues impacting widespread adoption of MR-guided focused ultrasound therapies. Information about the symposium can be found here.
Driven by the desire to save lives, alleviate suffering and prevent disability, the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation is devoted to advancing one of modern medicine's most promising and game-changing technologies, noninvasive magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (FUS).
Founded in 2006 and based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Foundation is a high-performance, not-for-profit organization with global reach and an entrepreneurial spirit. To accelerate the availability and reimbursement of FUS treatments, the Foundation hosts symposia and thought-leader workshops, funds preclinical and clinical research, supports the establishment of FUS Centers of Excellence, promotes patient awareness and education, and serves as the nexus of a collaborative research network consisting of sites and investigators around the world. The Foundation's work is made possible by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. For complete information, visit www.fusfoundation.org.
WVTF, September 2011
WVTF, a public radio station that serves central, western and south side Virginia, aired this interview with John Watterson, a patient treated in the UVA clinical trial for essential tremor. Scroll to the bottom of the story to play the broadcast.
UVA pioneers a way to stop tremors
Researchers who have submitted abstracts and been invited to submit full proposals to the FUS Foundation's Research Awards Program are reminded that their original or revised input must be received by October 1 in order to be considered for funding during the first quarter of 2012. Proposals received after the submission deadline will automatically be deferred to the next funding cycle.
The Research Awards Program, which received a record number of proposals last quarter, continues to accept and review abstracts on a rolling basis. However, the program's independent Research Advisory Committee only reviews full proposals and makes funding recommendations on a quarterly basis.
Submission deadline:July 1, 2011October 1, 2011January 3, 2012April 1, 2012
Notification of funding decision:October 1, 2011 (pending)January 3, 2012April 1, 2012July 1, 2012
The FUS Foundation extends its warmest congratulations to Ted Weschler, a Charlottesville-based entrepreneur and hedge fund manager hired this month by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Weschler will be among the handful of money managers leading the firm when its current chief investment officer, Warren Buffett, retires.
Weschler, 50, is known for going the distance - he is a marathon runner and an extraordinarily successful long-term investor. He has also been a long-term supporter of the FUS Foundation. As the Foundation's Chairman Neal Kassell, MD explains, "Ted Weschler really jump-started the FUS Foundation. I went to him to present the concept back in 2004, and he quickly became our first donor."
Kassell adds, "We are truly excited for Ted and are appreciative of his encouragement and support. We look forward to our continued relationship with him as this next chapter of his career unfolds."
New, noninvasive deep brain treatment for essential tremor will be topic of special event on September 17
Since early 2011, neurosurgical circles around the globe have been abuzz with news about a new, noninvasive treatment for essential tremor that is being pioneered in Charlottesville. Early results show the approach, which requires no incisions and uses sound waves to treat a region deep within the brain, is highly promising. Essential tremor is a progressive neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking of the hands, head, voice and other areas of the body. It affects an estimated 10 million Americans.
CBS Evening News, June 2011
The Foundation was involved in pitching this national news segment, which illuminates the benefits of MR-guided focused ultrasound.
Ultrasound replaces scalpel for some tumor opps
Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 2011This story covers a Foundation-funded clinical trial that produced the world’s first MRgFUS treatment of essential tremor, conducted at the University of Virginia.U.Va. uses scalpel-free brain surgery to treat tremor
Richmond Time-Dispatch, June 2011This article is a follow-up with the UVA clinical trial patient, Billy Williams, three months after his MRgFUS treatment for essential tremor.Early results of essential tremor study promising
Community Idea Stations (radio broadcast), March 2011Billy Williams, the patient treated in the world's first MRgFUS essential tremor trial, is interviewed.UVA performs world’s first focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor
Albermarle Magazine, February 2011This feature article highlights the work of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation and the importance of the technology.Focused Ultrasound Surgery Center of Excellence: Leading the worldwide movement to revolutionize the field of medicine
TV viewers in dozens of American cities are learning about the FUSF-funded essential tremor trial at the University of Virginia. In early August, Ivanhoe Broadcast News — a syndication service that works in partnership with the American Institute of Physics — provided subscribing stations with a video report about the trial. Stations will air the story whenever newscast time permits.
The story features interviews with the study's first patient, Billy R. Williams, and its principal investigator, W. Jeffrey Elias, MD.
Virginia Business, October 2009The University of Virginia Focused Ultrasound Surgery Center, which the Foundation was instrumental in creating, is showcased in this news piece.An ultrasound idea:New U.Va. surgery center combines two technologies
Abstract submissions were set to close last week for the 1st European Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound Therapy. Organized by the Department of Radiology of the University of Rome La Sapienza, the symposium will be held September 22 and 23, 2011 in Rome.
Celsion Corporation recently announced it is moving its headquarters from Columbia, MD to Princeton, NJ. An article published in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun asserts that the move is prompted by the lack of a labor pool in Maryland with experience in marketing, selling and distributing pharmaceuticals.
In addition to sponsoring clinical trials that are assessing its heat-sensitive drug, Thermodox, as a treatment for liver and breast cancer, Celsion is working in partnership with Philips Healthcare to develop a new focal drug delivery treatment for metastatic bone cancer. The method combines ThermoDox with Philips’ MR-guided focused ultrasound technology.
The FUS Foundation's Research Awards Program received a record number of applications during the first half of 2011. By the end of the second quarter, the Foundation had received 15 proposals, eclipsing the whole-year totals of 11 and 14 for 2009 and 2010, respectively. "It's incredibly exciting news for the Foundation," says Hannah Edelen, Director of Research and Fellowship Programs.
Edelen attributes the rise to the Foundation's change from a rolling acceptance policy to a quarterly deadline system that encourages researchers to submit proposals sooner.
In a press release last month, InSightec, Ltd. reported that pilot clinical trials at four sites have used its MR-guided focused ultrasound system to treat 23 patients with organ confined low risk prostate cancer and that results are promising.
According to InSightec, five patients underwent near total gland ablation that preserved their urinary sphincter and neurovascular bundles, and 18 received focal treatments. None of the procedures (whole gland or focal) triggered Severe Adverse Events during or after treatment, and none required post-treatment intervention, demonstrating a good safety profile.
In the July 2011 issue of this newsletter, we reported thatCHA Bundang Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea had become the first MR-guided FUS site in the world to treat more than 500 uterine fibroid patients. An email fromPaul Wragg, MSc (MRI) European Applications Manager for InSightec, Ltd., informed us that another site had already passed this clinical milestone.
The Daily Progress, May 2009The Foundation, the technology, and the development of the University of Virginia Focused Ultrasound Surgery Center are the focus of this early news coverage.Focused ultrasound surgery re-invents cancer treatment
Haifu operates its own 32-bed Clinical Center for Tumor Therapy at the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University (CQMU). The center, which was the first to treat breast cancer and bone tumors with HIFU, draws patients from around the world. In 2004, the center added gynecological diseases to its clinical specialties and now treats patients with lichen sclerosis, squamous cell hyperplasia and chronic cervicitis.
To build a global presence, Haifu has established relationships with leading academic research sites, including the University of Oxford (UK), University of Utah (USA), University of Chiba (Japan), Catholic University of Korea (South Korea) and University of Hong Kong (China). The company is also exploring new commercial opportunities, including a highly promising collaboration with Siemens Medical Solutions that is developing an MR-guided focused ultrasound system to treat uterine fibroids, osteosarcoma and other tumors.
Researcher interview: Hyun S. (Kevin) Kim, MD, Emory University, USA
However, two new challenges quickly arose: gaining widespread physician adoption and insurance reimbursement. Both are needed to build traction against established surgical procedures – such as hysterectomy – and newer less-invasive approaches. Both require the availability of evidence demonstrating long-term patient benefits.
According to a story recently published by the UK-based Daily Mail Online, researchers have successfully treated 15 patients using MRgFUS for facet joint-related back pain in a clinical trial at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.
During the treatment, the patient lies in an MRI scanner while doctors deliver beams of ultrasound to the nerves of the facet joints, using images from the scanner to position the beams. The low-energy sound waves do not damage healthy tissue but are angled by the physicians so that they cross over each other at the position of the facet joints, numbing the nerves.
Researchers reported that the focused ultrasound treatment resulted in a 62 percent decrease in pain and a 55 percent decrease in disability.
MRgFUS shows promise as a viable option for facet joint back pain, particularly in cases that may be resistant to other treatments.
Read the article.
Twenty-three patients with organ-confined, low-risk prostate cancer have been treated with MR-guided focused ultrasound in clinical trials, showing promising initial results.
The goal of the trials is to demonstrate the feasibility of using the ExAblate® MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) system in endorectal prostate treatments and to assess the safety and preliminary effectiveness of the treatment. The trials were approved by local ethic committees.
A study recently published in the journal Academic Radiology shows positive outcomes up to three years following treatment of uterine fibroids with MR-guided focused ultrasound.
In the study, 40 women with fibroids were treated with focused ultrasound. Researchers followed up with the women at three and six months, as well as one, two and three years. They found that the largest decrease in fibroid size occurred within the first six months and continued to happen over the three-year period.
The Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation is delighted to welcome two new Council members, Wyndham Robertson of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Linda Zecher of Keswick, Virginia. The FUSF Council is a group of advisors and advocates that supports the work of the Foundation by providing counsel, organizing cultivation events and helping to raise funds and increase public awareness.
Wyndham Robertson A staff member at FORTUNE Magazine for 25 years, Wyndham Robertson was its first female assistant managing editor. She covered investments, finance and technology. She also served briefly as the business editor of TIME Magazine.
On June 14, 2011, GE Healthcare Korea and InSightec, Ltd. co-hosted a conference to recognize two important developments in the focused ultrasound community.
First was the attainment of the 500-patient mark by the focused ultrasound team at CHA Bundang Medical Center in Seoul. Under the leadership of Sang-Wook Yoon, MD, the team has been treating uterine fibroid patients for five years. CHA’s one-year follow up data shows that 95% of patients have experienced improvement and that 18 have either become pregnant or given birth.
The second development acknowledged at the event is the purchase of ExAblate brain and body systems by Yonsei University Medical Center. Jin Woo Chang, MD will use the new brain system to conduct the world’s first clinical trial in which patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) will receive MR-guided focused ultrasound therapy. Yonsei researchers are also planning clinical trials involving patients with metastatic bone tumors, low-risk and intermediate risk prostate cancers, essential tremor, and brain cancer.
FUSF Research Award recipient: Nathan McDannold, Harvard Medical School, USA
Nathan McDannold, PhD, started working in focused ultrasound research as a physics graduate student in 1996. “I was looking for a medical physics project and sort of stumbled into the field,” he recalls.
The Foundation is pleased to welcome Arik Hananel, MD as its new Scientific and Medical Director. Hananel was involved in the early stages of commercializing MR-guided focused ultrasound at device pioneer InSightec, Ltd. and has more than 12 years of research and development experience with the technology.
The pivotal positions Hananel held at InSightec give him a unique vantage point for advancing the Foundation’s mission: he is familiar with the clinical research funded by the Foundation, understands how the technology is evolving and has long-standing relationships with the key stakeholders in the field.
“We are excited about the leadership role that Dr. Hananel will play at the Foundation. His in-depth knowledge of many facets of MR-guided focused ultrasound will be invaluable in helping to facilitate the adoption of this game-changing technology,” says Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD.
Hananel’s primary responsibilities will be overseeing research activities, including pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, and representing the Foundation at meetings and symposia.
Hananel is passionate about accelerating the adoption of MR-guided focused ultrasound. “It can change medicine in a way that will benefit almost every patient,” he observes. “I remember seeing the first uterine fibroid treatments, and thinking about the contrast of the long recovery processes involved in other, more invasive procedures. I would watch a woman get treated with MR-guided focused ultrasound. Thirty-minutes later, I would be sitting with her, talking and joking. It continues to amaze me, even today.
“Once you see a patient receive the treatment, it changes your perspective completely. You need to see the person and not the procedure,” he says.
This enthusiasm for patients is natural to Hananel. Though his career has been in the corporate world, he trained as a clinical MD and almost became a pediatrician. However, as he says, “fate intervened” when he accepted a position at InSightec.
He is pleased that his new post at the Foundation will allow him to combine his medical degree with his two other degrees: a Bachelor’s of Computer Science and an Executive MBA. Aside from the great career fit, he considers the opportunity to be a personal “adventure.” Hananel, his wife, and three boys – ages 6, 11 and 14 – are relocating from their native Israel to Charlottesville, Virginia for the next chapter of their lives.
Hypoxic (oxygen-deprived) tumor cells usually resist radiation and chemotherapy, making them a key challenge in treating cancer. Researcher Xin Chen, PhDbelieves that MR-guided focused ultrasound could reduce this problem, benefiting patients with malignant solid tumors in areas such as the liver, prostate and breast.
Chen, who is an assistant professor in the Department Radiation Oncology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has received a $100,000 Research Award from the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation. He is exploring the feasibility of a new method that will detect the hypoxic areas in tumors and use MR-guided focused ultrasound to selectively ablate them prior to regular radiation therapy.
Studies are recruiting patients with essential tremor, brain tumors
The Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation has announced it is funding two new clinical trials at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. The studies will evaluate the feasibility and safety of MR-guided focused ultrasound as a treatment for essential tremor and malignant brain tumors. Performed under protocols approved by Health Canada, the noninvasive treatments will be administered through patients’ intact skulls, and study participants will remain awake – no anesthesia will be administered. The Sunnybrook team will follow each patient’s progress for three months with contrast MRI and clinical examinations.
Just wanted to let everyone know that the as of yesterday, we had received 11 new abstract submissions this quarter for the Research Awards Program. This is the highest quarterly submission number we have seen since the program’s inception in 2007! The full proposals are also coming in at record pace for the July 1st submission deadline.
Hannah Edelen, JDDirector, Research & Fellowship ProgramsFocused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation
The special symposium will provide day-long programs dedicated to education, therapy and diagnoses. Scheduled for August 2, the session on therapy is being organized by Christian Diederich, PhD, Director of the Thermal Therapy Research Group at the University of California San Francisco. His collaborator is Stanley Benedict, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Radiological Physics at the University of Virginia.
Device maker set to hire staff and launch clinical trials of its new prostate cancer treatment
The Focused Ultrasouns Surgery Foundation contgratulates Profound Medical Inc. (PMI) for closing Canada's largest, early-stage medical device venture capital financing in recent years. The Toronto-based company is using intellectual property and technology licensed from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to develop an MRI-guided, trans-urethral treatment for localized prostate cancer.
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