Thilo Hölscher M.D.,Visiting Professor at UVA and the Foundation in January

Dr. Thilo Hölscher, Assistant Professor in both Radiology and Neurosciences at the University of California at San Diego, was a guest of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation and the University of Virginia Department of Neurosurgery on January 13-14, 2010.  Dr. Hölscher attended medical school at the University of Essen in Germany, and did his neurology residency training both there and at the University of Regensburg.  He began a research fellowship in transcranial ultrasound as a Co-Investigator on a P50 NIH grant at the University of California at San Diego in the summer of 2002, where he became an assistant professor in 2004.

Dr. Hölscher is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the use of focused ultrasound in the dissolution of intravascular clot in the treatment of stroke.  He has been instrumental in assisting the Brain Program of the Foundation in developing a comprehensive road map for the pre-clinical studies necessary to complete before beginning pilot clinical trials in patients.

The Foundation has funded Dr. Hölscher in several ways, including work he proposed to generate a skull data base of sound absorption coefficients in 150 skulls of a wide variety of shapes and thicknesses. Shear waves and significant acoustic characteristics are much more significant at lower frequencies (those used for certain transcranial FUS). This is important in offering the possibility of expeditious treatment of stroke patients by omitting the time-consuming process of calculating the correction algorithms for each individual patient.

The combined CT and sound field data acquired will be important to another ongoing FUSF study involving simulations to investigate the possible generation of standing waves or hot spots due to natural focusing within the skull (intracranial reflection). These studies are critical to the overall safety of FUS in the brain.

Dr. Hölscher presented his work to a multidisciplinary audience at UVA Medical Center on January 13, 2010.  He discussed the optimal power range for sonothrombolysis, the potential role of microbubble enhancement and even the possibility of replacing tPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator, a significant cause of hemorrhagic risk as currently employed with stroke patients) with microbubbles, greatly decreasing the risks of treatment.

Illustrating the global nature of his research interests, he finished his talk with a provocative review of the possibilities of inducing heat shock proteins, eradicating Lewy bodies in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and even vagal nerve stimulation using FUS to treat the gastrointestinal complications of traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Hölscher was recently awarded NIH RO1 funding as a multi-million dollar grant to study sonothrombolysis in the treatment of stroke.

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