The Foundation’s External Awards Program is pleased to announce that it has funded four new projects for the 2nd quarter of 2014. The topics are varied across several indications and include:
  • immunomodulation and tumor ablationresearch awards headshots
  • pediatric neurological disorders
  • historipsy collaboration with FDA
  • treating lower back pain

Represented institutions include the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, SickKids Hospital in Toronto, the University of Cincinnati, and Stanford University School of Medicine. A complete list of previously funded projects and instructions to apply for these grants are available on our website.

Project summaries written by the investigators:

Immunomodulation signature profile consequent to MRgFUS tumor ablation by Elena Rosca, PhD, University of Hull, United Kingdom

Noninvasive treatment of cancer has been the dream for decades. With the advent of focused ultrasound (FUS) technology, it is becoming a reality. Recently, studies have shown an immunostimulatory effect of FUS, revealing increased cytokine production and infiltration of immune cells into the tumor microenvironment. Thus, this project sets out to establish a matrix of clinical immune signature changes that occur with FUS ablation of breast tumors. This signature matrix of changes will serve as a benchmark for future development and optimization of multimodal, noninvasive approaches to treat cancer, particularly for the use of localized specific immune augmentation using thermoresponsive immunomodulating liposomes to complement tumor ablation.

Noninvasive Treatment of Pediatric Neurological Disorders using MR-guided Focused Ultrasound - Part 1 Pediatric Skull Characterization and Re-Focusing by James Drake, BSE, MBBCh, MSc, FRCSC, FACS, SickKids Hospital, Toronto, Canada

Brain lesioning is well established in adult tremor, and early results from FUS trials have shown great efficacy and successful targeting for ablation of tumors with transcranial systems. However, little to no work has been performed on neonatal and pediatric patients. Based on clinical presentation of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) and epilepsy, there is a clear clinical need for noninvasive treatments because current treatment techniques have complications (e.g., Secondary intracerebral hemorrhages from tPA). With our initial data, neonatal and pediatric patients possess unique skull and brain properties that facilitate and simplify the transmission of FUS. The open fontanels and thinner skulls potentially reduce the need for lower frequencies, which opens up the possibility of using existing FUS transducers to perform the treatment and reduce the upfront investment. Our project will characterize the acoustic properties of pediatric skulls over three frequencies, develop a refocusing algorithm based on the acoustic data, simulate the acoustic transmission through the skull to study the effects on the target and surrounding areas, and validate the algorithm on a porcine model.

Microbubble Cloud Formation from Ultrasound Contrast Agents during Histotripsy Pulses by Kenneth Bader, PhD, University of Cincinnati

The stochastic nature of microbubble activity makes the development of regulatory standards difficult for cavitation-based ultrasound therapies. We propose to develop in-vitro and in-silico models to assess the area, location, and type of microbubble activity and ablation during histotripsy pulses. These data will elucidate an FDA regulatory framework for histotripsy devices, which will profoundly impact the advancement of clinical use of focused ultrasound.

A Feasibility Study to Evaluate the Safety and Initial Effectiveness of MR-Guided High Intensity Focused Ultrasound in the Treatment of Facetogenic Lumbar Back Pain by Pejman Ghanouni, MD, Stanford University

The goal of this prospective, non-randomized, single-arm, single-site feasibility study is to develop data to evaluate the safety and initial effectiveness of ExAblate FUS treatment of 10 patients with lumbar back pain arising from facet joint arthritis.

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