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

The initiative – called "Focused Ultrasound for the Treatment of PAncReatic CanceR – an InternAtional RegistrY" or ARRAY – is being funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation to help guidPancreatic Roadmap RGBe the future of research for this deadly disease.

"There are many different approaches in practice globally for using focused ultrasound to address pancreatic cancer,” said Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “ARRAY will gather and compare data on this broad spectrum of approaches and their impact on patients’ overall health. Our goal is to use this information to optimize focused ultrasound therapy for these patients, for whom there are few clinical options.”

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most difficult to treat diseases. Almost 340,000 patients worldwide are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer annually, and less than 8% of patients will survive five years after diagnosis. Beyond the prognosis, disease-related pain is oftentimes a significant symptom that affects daily life for patients.

Early clinical studies in Europe and Asia suggest that focused ultrasound treatment of pancreatic tumors relieves pancreatic cancer-related pain and can ablate – or kill – malignant tissue.

“While these preliminary cases are interesting, it is difficult to interpret their significance given the different devices used, variations in treatment techniques, and outcomes measured,” said the Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer, Tim Meakem, MD. “With this registry, we will gain a better understanding of these techniques and use the data to guide future studies and, eventually, determine the best treatment paths.”

In December 2019, the first patient enrolled in the registry was treated by Srikanth Reddy, MBBS, PhD, Consultant Surgeon at Oxford University in Oxford, UK.

“I am happy to share that the patient has reported a significant reduction in pain associated with the disease following focused ultrasound treatment, but it is too early to know what the affect will be on the cancer,” says Reddy. “We are hopeful that there will be some reduction in tumor size and possible immune response in the longer term and that this technology will prove to be a valuable tool for physicians in treating this challenging disease. Encouragingly, the patient has expressed no regrets about participating in the clinical trial and would recommend it to others suffering with pancreatic cancer.”

In all, ARRAY will enroll 100 patients from 10 international sites. Patients will be followed for 12 months post-treatment.

ARRAY is being led by co-principal investigators Joo Ha Hwang, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Stanford University, and Joan Vidal-Jové, MD, PhD, Head of Focused Ultrasound Ablation Oncology at Barcelona University Hospital.

"During the last years, we have treated more than 80 pancreatic tumors with focused ultrasound,” says Vidal-Jové. “Our results improve the outcomes of patients adding a noninvasive option to the classic chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. In recent cases, we have been able to detect some isolated abscopal effects, meaning reductions on tumor burden far from the target treatment performed due to some action of the immune system. We cannot clearly characterize these responses with the low frequency seen in a single experience. A registry of most of the sites dedicated to this treatment will give us more data to analyze and a higher chance of coming up with results that may enlighten the next developments in this field. The recent incorporation of immune therapies will also play a role and focused ultrasound may enhance this possibility."

“We are excited to move this registry forward with the sites that have been enrolled,” said Hwang. “We hope that this registry will provide us with information that will help advance the application of focused ultrasound to treat pancreatic cancer.”

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