The Focused Ultrasound Foundation organized and hosted a workshop on March 3-4 in Charlottesville, Virginia, to discuss the state of the art, current challenges, and future research directions for using focused ultrasound to induce neuromodulation – the stimulation or blocking of neuronal activity in targeted areas of the brain.

This workshop brought together a multidisciplinary, group including luminaries in transcranial focused ultrasound, ultrasound physics, magnetic resonance imaging, neurology, and neurosurgery. The global group represented academic institutions, device manufacturers, government, and the Foundation.

Key topics included the potential of focused ultrasound to:
  • improve targeting for ablation procedures
  • perform brain mapping functions
  • treat epilepsy and psychiatric disorders
  • evaluate efficacy of drug therapy

The group devised a plan to use focused ultrasound-induced neuromodulation to confirm targeted brain tissue prior to ablation in a patient before the end of 2014.

The workshop addressed many other issues, with a particular emphasis on current status, data management, and the challenges that are most relevant to future potential clinical trials.

Workshop outputs included:

1. A clinical roadmap for neurofunctional target verification

  • Initial indication will likely be thalamotomy for Parkinsonian or essential tremor
  • Investigators were tasked with initial roadmap steps
  • A goal was set to successfully demonstrate neuromodulation during a patient treatment before the end of 2014

2. An inventory of potential high impact clinical indications
3. A preliminary list of current research sites and investigators
4. A white paper will be released in the near future

The presentations and discussion topics encouraged attendees to appreciate the importance of this field to patients. New research initiatives and projects between the different teams will be considered for a newly announced research prize.

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