November 2007: MRgFUS Featured at Leksell Symposium and more...

Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation
In This Issue: Vol 8
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Dear Subscriber,
Welcome to this month's issue of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation newsletter, offering the latest developments in focused ultrasound as well as news of the Foundation and its programs. 

The FUSF has changed its acceptance schedule for research and fellowship applications to occur on a quarterly basis, with the deadline for this next quarter ending on November 31st.  For more information on the Foundation's research and fellowship programs, please visit our website.

To keep up with the Foundation's activities and the latest news in the world of Focused Ultrasound Surgery, visit our Web site at


MRgFUS Featured Prominently at Neurosurgery Symposium
The ability to treat diseases of the central nervous system non-invasively has long been a primary goal of the neurosurgery community. To that end, MR guided focused ultrasound generated a lot of excitement at the 2007 Lars Leksell Symposium, where MRgFUS was the featured topic in many of the presentations. The Symposium, which was convened on October 15 and 16, was hosted by the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia and sponsored by the FUSF.
Lars Leksell, the Swedish physician recognized as the father of stereotactic neurosurgery, had originally investigated the use of focused ultrasound to treat deep-seated brain tumors in animal studies as early as 1949. However, he found that the ultrasound technology of the time was too difficult to control while operating through the skull and turned instead to radiosurgery to treat tumors. It is only now that advances in transducer design, medical imaging, and computer planning have evolved sufficiently to allow this revolutionary technology to become a reality, thereby fulfilling Leksell's original dream.

Dr. Ferenc Jolesz of Brigham and Women's Hospital, who is recognized as one of the pioneers of MR guided focused ultrasound, gave a presentation on MRgFUS for the first time at a neurosurgery conference. In addition, Dr. Neal Kassell of the University of Virginia discussed the potential for treating of intracranial aneurysms using MRgFUS, and Dr. Victor Frenkel of the National Institutes of Health gave a presentation on the use of focused ultrasound to enhance the delivery of therapeutic agents to brain tumors.
Researcher Point of View - Evan Unger, MD
Evan Unger, MD, FACR, is Professor of Radiology and Bioengineering at the University of Arizona. Dr. Unger has authored over 100 peer reviewed publications and is the inventor on 112 issued US patents, many of which pertain to microbubbles and ultrasound-mediated drug and gene delivery. He has directed a team which developed 3 FDA approved drugs, including Definity®, a leading ultrasound contrast agent in the United States. Over the last several years, Dr. Unger led the development of a new microbubble that is currently in multi-national clinical trials that are testing the use of ultrasound for microbubble-enhanced sonothrombolysis treatment of acute ischemic stroke.
At the University of Arizona we are assembling a multi-disciplinary team of researchers for focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) research. Our program encompasses near-term research with expeditious translation into clinical studies and longer-term studies that use sensitizers specifically designed for FUS. We have reached out to the distinguished clinicians treating bone tumors, breast cancer, liver tumors and other conditions to develop the network to conduct clinical trials for new FUS indications.

My basic research centers on targeted drug delivery and therapy. Working with my colleague, Dr. Terry Matsunaga, we have developed paclitaxel-loaded nanodroplets for FUS that bind to an integrin receptor that is upregulated in prostate cancer. These nanodroplets have already undergone initial preclinical development and characterization. We have also developed nanoparticles for FUS that are targeted to angiogenesis. We would like to move one or more of these agents into human studies. In parallel we plan to perform basic studies to better elucidate the mechanisms underlying targeted drug delivery and sensitizer-enhanced tissue ablation.
Reminder: MR Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery Textbook Published
A reminder that the first textbook with a concentration on MR guided focused ultrasound surgery was published last month. This textbook, edited by Dr. Ferenc Jolesz and Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, provides an exploration of the foundations of this technology as well as an in-depth analysis of current and future clinical applications.

When you order the book, be sure to use the following discount code to receive a 20% discount on your purchase: FDF86
Clinical News
CE Mark restriction removed for the ExAblate to be used only for 'family complete' patients
The CE Mark for the ExAblate 2000 system has been changed to ease the restrictions for patients who may wish to continue childbearing based on data from successful pregnancies after uterine fibroid treatment with the device.

CMS finalizes increased coverage of MRgFUS treatment of uterine fibroids
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized their decision to assign the focused ultrasound ablation of uterine fibroids with with a coverage of $3929.70.
Featured Papers
Increased blood-brain barrier disruption using microbubbles and focused ultrasound
The use of a microbubble ultrasound contrast agent during transcranial focused ultrasound therapy can lead to the reversible opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) which can be used to allow pharmacological payloads such as chemotherapy and genetic agents to be applied at specific intracranial targets.  This paper examines the amount of BBB disruption caused by various levels of an ultrasound contrast agent.

Using focused ultrasound to treat tumors through the ribcage
Treating organs that are located within the ribcage can be difficult due to bone absorption of ultrasound energy.  This paper presents methods which can allow the ultrasound beams to be focused within the ribcage.
We are always looking for new content of interest to the FUS community, so if you know of any relevant stories that we should be covering, please contact us at
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