To celebrate the opening of UVA’s new Focused Ultrasound Center, an international array of speakers joined in a research symposium on September 14. The symposium featured presentations from the UVA team that will run the center and lead its research efforts, together with lectures by visiting speakers from Houston, London, Arizona, and Zurich.

The first human proof-of-concept study has begun at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.

Supported by an independent research grant, research scientists at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, led by Chief of Urology, Dr Laurence Klotz, MD, have successfully begun the first human, proof-of-concept study for treating prostate cancer using their novel MRI-guided, trans-urethral ultrasound technique.

After extensive testing of the technology in mathematical, gel, and pre-clinical models, the potential new treatment is now undergoing trials in a number of patient volunteers to affirm its safety, accuracy, and precision.

The core intellectual property from this technology has been exclusively licensed to Profound Medical Inc. of Toronto, Canada, to accelerate commercialization under the guidance of the FDA and Health Canada.

“We commend the team at Sunnybrook for their exemplary research and clinical work. It’s a significant moment in the company’s history, as well as potentially having a major impact on how prostate cancer patients may be treated in the next decade. We can expect to proceed as planned with human clinical feasibility trials in the USA and Canada in the near future with our medical device,” stated Paul Chipperton, CEO of PMI.

On September 28, 2009, more than 75 attendees trekked to Cargese, Corsica, for the Third Autumn School on Therapeutic Ultrasound.  The School was directed by Gail ter Haar, PhD, of the Institute of Cancer Research, and Mathias Fink, PhD, founder of the Institut Langevin in Paris.

The organizational heavy lifting was undertaken by two full-time researchers at the Institut Langevin, Jean-François Aubry and Jean-Luc Gennisson, who did an exceptional job of bringing together attendees from 10 countries, including 19 faculty members.  For the students, it was an incomparable opportunity to learn from the leaders in the rapidly emerging field of therapeutic ultrasound.  The lectures began with an introduction to the physics and biophysics to build the foundation for understanding the technical aspects of therapeutic ultrasound, followed by individual lectures on topics ranging from commercial devices for treating prostate cancer to emerging applications for focused ultrasound.  – Joy Polefrone, PhD, FUSF

The small town of Cargese, with only 290 inhabitants, allowed all of the sage and budding scientists in this newly emerging field to delve into the current technology, assess new developments as well as systems under development, and freely explore a wide range of biological and engineering challenges to FUS. The setting afforded ample opportunities for participants to meet with faculty while looking out over the cliffs, beaches, and Mediterranean sunsets.  Where or when the next FUS school for scientists will take place is not yet known – France, London, or the USA.  But hopefully it will afford opportunities to delve into many topics and to appraise the latest developments in the field with the same success experienced in Cargese in 2009. Stanley H. Benedict, PhD, University of Virginia

A dedicated Focused Ultrasound Center with comprehensive research plans

The Symposium was opened by James M. Larner, MD, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at UVA, and director of the new Focused Ultrasound Center. “If this technology is half as successful as many people in this audience today would say, a number of other technologies will be disrupted,” Larner said. “But we have no choice but to recognize and help uncover the truth.”

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