July 2018 - Alzheimer’s Study Results Published, US Trial Initiated and More

July 2018

Focused Ultrasound Research Highlighted at Top Alzheimer's Meeting


The results of the first ever clinical trial of focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease were published yesterday in Nature Communications and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). The trial at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto demonstrated the feasibility and preliminary safety of focally, reversibly, and repetitively opening the BBB in patients with Alzheimer's. This news has garnered major media attention including coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Times


US FDA Approves Initiation of Focused Ultrasound Trial for Alzheimer's 


Israeli manufacturer Insightec has announced that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the initiation of an Alzheimer's disease clinical trial using focused ultrasound in the US. The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of using Insightec's Exablate Neuro device to disrupt the BBB in these patients.

 Foundation News

Hear from the Experts: Video Interviews from AAIC

The Foundation team was on hand in Chicago as the results of the first Alzheimer's disease clinical trial were presented and published yesterday. Our Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD, and Chief Medical Officer, Suzanne LeBlang, MD, interviewed Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, who led the Toronto study.

In another interview, Deborah Kan, founder of the Alzheimer's patient support organization Being Patient, talked with Dr. Lipsman about his research. 

Blog: Foundation's Role in Advancing Focused Ultrasound for Alzheimer's

Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, sheds light on the Foundation's role over the past six years as focused ultrasound has evolved as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease. See a timeline of the Foundation's activities including funding research, convening researchers and physicians, and hosting workshops.


Scholar Update: Frédéric Padilla, PhD

Last March, we introduced French researcher Frédéric Padilla, PhD, as a 2017 Richard Merkin Scholar. Joining us from the Laboratory of Therapeutic Applications of Ultrasound (LabTAU) in Lyon, France, Frédéric signed on for a 12-month appointment as a Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia while working closely with the Foundation’s scientific team. As he plans to continue his work with the Foundation, Frédéric shares an update on his experience thus far and his future work. 


Last Call: $75,000 Lockhart Memorial Prize Applications Due July 31


At the end of the month, the application period for the Lockhart Memorial Prize, an annual $75,000 cash award established in memory of Andrew Lockhart, will close. The award is given to an investigator who demonstrates outstanding potential to contribute to advancing cancer treatment using focused ultrasound.  In 2017, the prize was awarded to the University of Virginia’s Richard Price, PhD


 Symposium 2018 News

Record Number of Abstracts Received for Focused Ultrasound Symposium

More than 220 abstracts were submitted for the 6th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound to be held October 21-25 in Reston, Virginia. Researchers from more than 24 countries contributed data related to the use of image-guided focused ultrasound in preclinical research, clinical research, or technology development. Abstract review and selection is now underway, and acceptance notifications will be sent in early August.


AdvaMed CEO Scott Whitaker Named Keynote Speaker for Focused Ultrasound Symposium

On Wednesday, October 24, Scott Whitaker, President and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), will address participants at the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s 6th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound in Reston, Virginia. A top healthcare advocate and policy expert, Whitaker will discuss the benefits of technology in medicine – including focused ultrasound – for improving the lives of patients and for society in general, as well as current challenges and obstacles facing the industry during an onstage interview.


 Patient News

NPR: Essential Tremor Patient “Steadied” by Focused Ultrasound

In a recent broadcast, “How Highly Focused Sound Waves Steadied A Farmer's Trembling Hand,” NPR’s Jon Hamilton shared the story of Alan Dambach, a Pennsylvania farmer whose essential tremor symptoms worsened to the point that writing was a challenge. Alan was treated with focused ultrasound at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the next day he noted, “I was just so happy. My signature was back.”


Judas Priest Guitarist Launches Parkinson’s Foundation to Fund Focused Ultrasound Research

Glenn Tipton, guitarist for the English heavy metal band Judas Priest, revealed his battle with Parkinson’s disease earlier this year as he stepped away from touring due to the illness. In June, Tipton released a statement announcing that he and his bandmates had formed The Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation to fund research, specifically in the area of focused ultrasound thalamotomy. All proceeds from a special edition charity t-shirt will be donated to Tipton’s Foundation. See media coverage from Rolling Stone, Louder, and Radio.com.  


New Webpage Designed to Educate Patients on Parkinson's Clinical Trial

The Foundation has created a webpage to inform patients and their families about the current pivotal clinical trial investigating focused ultrasound to treat the major motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The site explains the details of the trial and includes a list of the eight participating sites and patient stories. 



 Research News

Clinical Trial Results: Focused Ultrasound Helps Chemotherapy Reach Liver Tumors



Oxford University researchers have published results from the first clinical study investigating extracorporeally triggered drug delivery using focused ultrasound in the Lancet Oncology. Ten patients with chemotherapy-resistant liver tumors were treated with a new delivery method that uses focused ultrasound to gently heat tumors to release highly targeted chemotherapy from temperature-sensitive nanocarriers, or liposomes. This work has earned coverage in the oncology, precision medicine, and focused ultrasound communities.


Five-Year Focused Ultrasound Study Data are Encouraging for Prostate Cancer Patients 



Sonacare Medical has reported favorable five-year outcomes in a multicenter trial of its Sonablate technology in medium- to high-risk prostate cancer patients. The study demonstrated that focused ultrasound therapy resulted in failure-free survival rates that are equivalent to those of patients treated with traditional surgery. The study also reported lower instances of incontinence and erectile dysfunction than are seen with surgery and radiation therapy. Since Sonablate technology was FDA approved in 2015, more than 1,800 patients have been treated at over 40 US locations.

See media coverage in Cancer Therapy Advisor, MedPage Today, the Daily Mail, and The Times.

St. Mary’s Hospital in London Hosts Event to Launch Focused Ultrasound Fundraising Campaign


On June 21, Imperial Health Charity (IHC) and St. Mary’s Hospital in London hosted an event to launch the Tremor Lifeline Appeal, a fundraising campaign that aims to enhance the Acute Imaging Centre at St. Mary’s, allowing the hospital to offer focused ultrasound to even more patients with essential tremor. The appeal seeks £1.5 million for an additional MRI machine as well as structural and facility improvements. Focused ultrasound pioneer and consultant radiologist at St. Mary’s, Professor Wladyslaw Gedroyc, joined patients and representatives from industry and IHC at the event to celebrate the site’s essential tremor work and outline potential future applications for focused ultrasound.

Related Story: Focused Ultrasound Treatment for Essential Tremor Earns NICE Guidance

$2.5 Million Grant Will Fund Early Epilepsy Study


Kevin Lee, PhD, Harrison Foundation Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Neurosurgery, and Member of the Brain, Immunology, and Glia Center at the University of Virginia Health System (UVA), recently received a $2.5 million federal grant to explore a novel method for treating epilepsy using focused ultrasound. The R01 grant was awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 


Meeting Report: Foundation Chief Scientific Officer Presents at IEEE Medicine and Biology Workshop


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) held its 40th International Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference (EMBC) July 17-21 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD, presented oncological uses of focused ultrasound during a workshop on Energy-based cancer interventions: basic science, clinical application, and technology translation. EBMC also included a plenary session on focused ultrasound and two abstract sessions that featured eleven papers on the topic.


Research Roundup


Essential Tremor, metastatic cancer, breast tumors, and tumor biology are the subjects of this month’s research report. Focused ultrasound thalamotomy is approved for essential tremor; can researchers learn more about its effectiveness by correlating treatment dose with clinical outcome? Can focused ultrasound plus microbubbles deliver a more effective level of growth-suppressing chemotherapy to a rare cancer metastases? Could a new transducer design allow focused ultrasound to safely and effectively treat breast cancer? Have researchers discovered a new biomarker for cancer diagnosis? 


For a full list of this month’s research, visit our free, online research library of focused ultrasound publications.

JTU Article of the Month – Measuring Acoustic Pressure Fields


A Convenient, Reliable, and Fast Acoustic Pressure Field Measurement Method for Magnetic Resonance-guided High-intensity Focused Ultrasound Systems with Phased Array Transducers

Researchers from the Chen Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis have developed and tested a new method to measure and characterize acoustic pressure during MR-guided focused ultrasound procedures. Is it easy to use? Can it provide fast and reliable information when using a multi-element phased array transducer? Could it facilitate regulatory approval of new focused ultrasound techniques? See the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound >


Tell us about your research news for our next newsletter >
 Industry News

First Patient Enrolled in French Innovation Study for Breast Fibroadenomas


Theraclion recently announced that the first patient has been enrolled in “Forfait Innovation,” a 300-patient health economics outcome study that gives women with breast lesions access to Theraclion’s emerging Echotherapy treatment. Twelve participating hospitals will enroll patients in the trial, which is designed to compare focused ultrasound treatment to surgery. Theraclion was the first company to be included in the French Ministry of Health’s new program created to facilitate market access to innovative technologies. The treatments performed within the frame of the program are reimbursed by the national health system.


Focused Ultrasound for Essential Tremor Earns NICE Guidance


Insightec announced that their focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor has earned a positive guidance from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). According to their site, NICE guidelines are evidence-based recommendations that set out the care and services suitable for most people with a specific condition. The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is the only site in the UK treating essential tremor with the company’s Exablate Neuro device. 

Related Story: St. Mary’s Hospital Hosts Event to Launch Focused Ultrasound Fundraising Campaign 

Tell us about your industry news for our next newsletter >
 Media Coverage
Healio | Liquid Biopsy Technique May Detect Brain Tumor Biomarkers 7/18/18

The Cancer Letter | Gerstle Named Chief of Pediatric Surgery Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering 7/13/18

BioSpace | Bunzl Raises $55,000 for Paediatric Brain Tumour Research 7/13/18

News-Medical | Focused Ultrasound Holds Potential to be Game-changing Technology for Treating Essential Tremor 7/12/18

Physics World | Low-intensity Focused Ultrasound Tackles Dementia (BrainSonix patent application) 7/12/18

DOTmed | MITA Applauds New Research Showing Effectiveness of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound in Treating Prostate Cancer 7/11/18

Mass Device | Insightec Logs Medicare Win for MR-guided Focused Ultrasound in Treating Essential Tremor 7/9/18

Health Imaging | Helping Hands: Widening Access to Focused Ultrasound in US Reduces Essential Tremors 7/9/18

UroToday | Recurrence of Prostate Cancer after HIFU. Proposal of a Novel Predictive Index 7/5/18
 Upcoming Events
July 29-August 2, 2018 American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN

September 24-26, 2018 “Innovation Transforming Healthcare,” The MedTech Conference by AdvaMed, Philadelphia, PA

October 5-6, 2018 12th Interventional MRI Symposium, Boston, MA 

October 7, 2018 10th National Image-Guided Therapy Workshop (IMRI), Boston, MA 
Abstract deadline is July 27, 2018

October 21-24, 2018 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting, San Antonio TX

October 21-25, 2018 6th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, Reston, VA 

See the full calendar and submit your event >