April 2010: UK Researchers Receive $1.9 Million Grant to Develop Targeted Cancer Treatment and more...


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Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation NEWSLETTER VOL. 18
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Dear Subscriber,

Spring is in the air, and much is happening in the world of MR-guided focused ultrasound. Two important stories have emerged from Imperial College in London. Professor Wladyslaw M. Gedroyc and a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Imperial College and King’s College have received a £1.25 ($1.9 million) three-year grant to develop a new cancer treatment that combines heat-triggered nanoparticles, MRI and MR-guided FUS. Meanwhile, Evan Weeks, M.D. has achieved promising clinical results by using MR-guided FUS to treat patients with  facet joint back pain.

In the U.S., the media buzzed with news of MR-guided FUS treatments for uterine fibroids. Mayo Clinic interventional radiologist Gina Hesley, M.D., reported highly favorable one-year follow up results for uterine fibroid patients treated with MR-guided FUS. Patient advocate Erin S. shared her story about living with uterine fibroids on the TV show, The Doctors. Erin was successfully treated with MR-guided FUS.   

At the Foundation, we issued our 2009 Progress Report and announced that we have boosted support for brain treatments and targeted drug delivery applications of MR-guided FUS. Preparations for our 2nd International Symposium continue to move forward. We have begun   enrolling corporate sponsorships and will open abstract submissions on May 15.

Details of all these developments and more can be found in the stories below.


UK researchers receive $1.9 million grant to develop targeted cancer treatment using heat-sensitive nanoparticles and MR-guided FUS

FUS Foundation is a Healthcare Partner in project

The UK’s leading research funding agency, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, has awarded a £1.25 – about $1.9 million – grant to researchers at Imperial College and King’s College in London to develop a localized cancer treatment using three key technologies: heat-sensitive nanoparticles, magnetic resonance imaging and MR-guided focused ultrasound.

The goal of the three-year project is to improve the quality and efficacy of cancer therapy.  Researchers anticipate that the new approach will reduce systemic toxicity and related side-effects, deliver more of the drug dose to tumor sites and enable clinicians to tailor treatments to individual patients. As co-investigator Professor Wladyslaw M. Gedroyc noted, “Our approach, once realized, could transform cancer chemotherapy into a simple outpatient treatment with absolutely minimal side-effect problems.”

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 Mayo Clinic researcher, Gina Hesley, M.D., reports women are satisfied with MR-guided FUS treatment for uterine fibroids

A year after their procedures at the Mayo Clinic, 97 percent of the women who had MR-guided FUS treatments for uterine fibroids said their symptoms had improved. Ninety percent considered their improvement either “considerable” or “excellent.”

So reported Gina Hesley, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Mayo, who is studying the long-term effectiveness of MR-guided FUS treatments for uterine fibroids. She presented her findings at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 35th Annual Scientific Meeting in Tampa.

The Mayo study is following 119 patients, 89 of whom provided feedback during telephone interviews a year after their procedures. Each will be interviewed again on the second and third anniversaries of their procedures.   While the results are promising, Hesley cautioned, longer-term effectiveness of the focused ultrasound treatment needs continued study. In an interview for this newsletter, Hesley detailed her research and its potential implications.

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Fibroid Relief patient advocate appears on hit TV show, “The Doctors”

Advocate will also speak at April 27 Fibroid Relief at Last event in LA

Fibroid ReliefErin S., a blogger and patient advocate for the Foundation’s Patient Support Organization, Fibroid Relief, has taped an appearance on the daytime TV talk show, “The Doctors.” In a segment that will air on April 9, Erin shares her story about living with uterine fibroids and being successfully treated with MR-guided FUS. The segment will be archived online on www.thedoctorstv.com.

On April 27, Erin will be a panelist at Fibroid Relief at Last, a free, public information event sponsored by Fibroid Relief in Los Angeles. Other panelists will include UCLA clinicians and a naturopathic physician.

According to Krall, the LA event will be the first in the Fibroid Relief at Last series to include a discussion of alternative medicine. “We know there’s great interest in this topic from the many women who submit questions to our website and Facebook page,” she says.

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 Sponsorship opportunities, call for abstracts announced for 2nd International MR-guided FUS Symposium

MR-guided Focused Ultrasound 2010Planning is progressing for the Foundation’s 2nd International MR-guided Focused Ultrasound Symposium, scheduled for October 17-20 in Washington, D.C. Key developments this month include the availability of sponsorship packages and the selection of May 15 as the opening date for abstract submissions.

The Symposium is a premier event for scientists, clinicians and industry representatives interested in current and future applications of MR-guided FUS. Hundreds of thought-leaders and participants from five continents are expected to engage in the symposium’s vibrant exploration of this exciting medical forefront.  

For device manufacturers and suppliers, the symposium promises to be a key promotional venue.  A menu of sponsorship opportunities is available for corporations and other organizations that want to demonstrate support and establish a presence at the symposium. For complete information, contact Heather Huff-Simonin at Foundation headquarters. 

Call for abstracts to open on May 15 – details in May newsletter

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 Foundation emphasizing treatment of brain disorders and targeted drug delivery

FUSF Progress ReportIn a major change in strategy, the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation has begun to concentrate its resources on two high-potential areas for MR-guided focused ultrasound – brain treatments and targeted drug delivery (TDD).

According to Neal F. Kassell, MD, the Foundation will continue to champion the development of a broad spectrum of MR-guided FUS applications. “What’s changed is our emphasis. We’re adding more resources to areas where we can achieve maximum impact, both for patients and the entire field of MR-guided FUS.”

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 MR-guided FUS shows exciting promise in treating back pain

Evan Weeks, M.D. (left) with his FUS Fellowship mentor, Wladyslaw Gedroyc, M.D., and a St. Mary’s Hospital radiographer, Mariaan Jaftha
As a noninvasive therapy for the extreme back pain of facet joint osteoarthritis, MR-guided focused ultrasound shows considerable promise, reports Evan Weeks, M.D., a FUS Foundation funded fellow at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Weeks and his colleagues are conducting a prospective, non-randomized clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Insightec’s ExAblate system as a therapeutic technique for facet joint pain. A week after treatment, the first five patients experienced a 20 to 40 percent decrease in their average Numerical Rating Scores (NRS), which measures pain. At the same time, the patients’ Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Scores improved by 11 to 34 percent. Results were equivalent to those achieved by radiofrequency facet rhizotomy.

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 Nathan McDannold is guest speaker at UVA Center of Excellence

Leading focused ultrasound researcher Nathan McDannold, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, lectured and met with researchers and clinicians at the FUS Center of Excellence at the University of Virginia on March 24.

McDannold’s lecture, part of a speaker’s series funded by the FUS Foundation, was on “MRI-guided focused ultrasound for noninvasive ablation and targeted drug delivery.” He provided an overview of key research, technology and the major issues involved in developing MR-guided FUS applications for the brain and various cancers.

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