June 2018 - Foundation Focuses on Cancer Immunotherapy and More…

June 2018

Foundation Funds Research and Forms Key Collaborations in Focused Ultrasound and Cancer Immunotherapy

June is Cancer Immunotherapy Month, and the Foundation is proud to be a part of the emerging field of focused ultrasound for immune-based treatment of cancer, including the development of potential powerful combination approaches. Research is mounting to suggest that focused ultrasound can elicit an immune response, priming the immune system to increase the efficacy of immuno-oncology drugs.

The Foundation’s partnership with the Cancer Research Institute has resulted in funding a study at Washington University in St. Louis. We are also planning to work with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Finally, the Foundation is launching a $5 million campaign to fund a research portfolio of more than 20 identified projects plus additional future projects. Read more about these exciting announcements below. 
 Foundation News

Dunn Awarded Inaugural CRI/FUSF Immunotherapy Program Grant

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) and the Foundation are pleased to announce that they have jointly selected a Focused Ultrasound-Enhanced Cancer Immunotherapy project for co-funding. Presented to Gavin Dunn, MD, PhD, at Washington University in St Louis, this is the first grant awarded since the two organizations established their formal cancer immunotherapy partnership.


Focused Ultrasound Foundation Plans to Work with Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is working with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy to identify a project to explore and assess the potential of focused ultrasound in combination with immune-based therapies to treat a variety of cancers. 


Foundation Launches Cancer Immunotherapy Funding Campaign


The field of cancer immunotherapy is advancing at an unprecedented rate, prompting the Foundation to establish a Cancer Immunotherapy funding campaign to add to the momentum. We aim to raise $5 million to fund research projects that will develop focused ultrasound immune-based therapies. Since the Foundation’s Cancer Immunotherapy program began in 2016, we have received an increasing number of high quality investigator-initiated proposals. More than 20 research projects have been identified for funding, and this campaign will allow us to fund these as quickly as possible. For more information, contact Jessica Foley, PhD. 

Foundation Staff Joins #WearWhite Initiative


On June 15, Foundation staff took part in the Cancer Research Institute’s #WearWhite campaign. The initiative invites participants to wear white to stand for science and the search for immune-based cures. It also “echoes the hope immunotherapy can bring to patients in the darkness of their diagnosis.”  


Donor Profile: Carol Loomis


Carol Loomis has spent her career reporting on complex financial and business subjects for Fortune Magazine. In 2014, she retired as a senior editor-at-large after a 60-year career with the publication. After playing a role in the first mention of focused ultrasound in Fortune, she became a supporter of the technology’s potential. Learn how a personal memory and an interest in helping people led her to support the Foundation.


Foundation Publishes State of the Field Report


Each year, the Foundation produces a report outlining the state of focused ultrasound around the world. Read the 2018 State of the Field Report to learn about the dramatic upswing in the number of indications being researched and find out which two conditions dominate patient treatments worldwide. 


Virginia Governor Discusses Global Impact of State’s Investment in Focused Ultrasound During Visit

On June 5, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam visited the Foundation and met with members of the Foundation’s Board and Council, donors, representatives from the University of Virginia, and members of the local media. At the meeting, Governor Northam said, “The reason that I am here to support what Neal and the Foundation are doing is that – whether it’s a glioblastoma or Alzheimer’s – we are on the cusp of finding cures for a lot of these disorders.” 


Wick Moorman, Former CEO of Norfolk Southern and Amtrak, Elected to Foundation Board


Former CEO of Norfolk Southern and Amtrak, Charles W. “Wick” Moorman IV, has been elected to the Foundation's Board of Directors. “The work that the Foundation is doing to promote this technology, which has such wide-ranging potential to substantially improve peoples’ lives, is critically important, and I am delighted to be a part of it,” said Moorman.


Reminder: Lockhart Memorial Prize Applications Due July 31


Applications are now being accepted for this annual $75,000 cash award established in memory of Andrew Lockhart. 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


New Team Members Join Foundation


Several new professionals have recently joined the Foundation team. In April, Michael Broad signed on as the new Director of Global Relations and will help liaison with the global research community. Tony D’Alessio now leads the IT department as Information Technology Manager. Lastly, Deborah Heishman is our new Business Systems Analyst and Salesforce Administrator who will work to maintain the Foundation’s CRM and data tools. 

 Symposium 2018 News

Symposium Abstract Deadline Extended Through July 2

You now have until July 2 to submit abstracts for the 6th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, to be held October 21-25, 2018, in Reston, Virginia.

The Foundation welcomes abstracts related to the use of image-guided focused ultrasound in preclinical research, clinical research, or technology development. Topics of interest include neurological indications; cancer and benign tumors; musculoskeletal and arthritic pain; cardiovascular conditions; women’s health; pediatrics; and biomechanisms including tissue ablation, drug delivery, immunomodulation, neuromodulation, and more.


Meet the Moderators for Symposium 2018

This year’s symposium will include an impressive group of leaders in the field who will moderate presentations and discussions on their areas of expertise. The list of 46 includes international representatives from academia, industry, and government. 


 Patient News

Essential Tremor Treatment Covered by Medicare in 10 States and Counting


Device manufacturer Insightec recently announced that Medicare benefit coverage is available in ten states for focused ultrasound treatment of essential tremor, known as Neuravive. Currently, the treatment is covered in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. An additional six states – Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan, and Missouri – will be added beginning July 1, 2018, and 38 others have begun the process toward coverage. The FDA approved focused ultrasound to treat essential tremor in July 2016.

Learn more about Neuravive >

Prostate Cancer Treatment Insurance Coverage

The Foundation has recently learned that a small number of patients have had focused ultrasound treatment for their service-related prostate cancer covered by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This isn’t a department-wide decision or even a Veterans Integrated Services Networks (VISN) wide decision. Rather, success has been patient driven and has occurred at the individual facility level. 


Foundation CMO Presents at Essential Tremor Support Group


On June 7, the Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer, Tim Meakem, MD, spoke to the Essential Tremor Support Group of Central Virginia. Meakem shared an update on focused ultrasound treatment, including recent publications on patient outcomes over time and the status of insurance reimbursement. He fielded questions on topics like the possibility of bilateral ablation and requirements for treatment. A member of the group, John Watterson, was one of the first 15 patients treated in the initial safety study of focused ultrasound for essential tremor at the University of Virginia. 


 Research News

Craniofacial Pain Study Underway at the University of Virginia


The first patient has been treated in a clinical trial at the University of Virginia Health System exploring focused ultrasound to treat chronic trigeminal neuropathic pain. The trial is using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro system to assess the safety and initial effectiveness of using focused ultrasound to destroy a target in the brain implicated in transmitting craniofacial pain. Researchers caution that this study is not for the more common ailment, trigeminal neuralgia. 


2018 Second Quarter Research Award



The Foundation’s Program Funding Committee has selected one proposal to receive funding for the 2nd quarter of 2018. Yuana Yuana, PhD, in the Department of Biomedical Technology at the University Medical Center Utrecht (The Netherlands), will study “Drug delivery strategies using drug-loaded extracellular vesicles generated by microbubble-assisted ultrasound.” The project proposes to improve the way that focused ultrasound plus microbubbles delivers drugs – by reaching cells that are farther from the vasculature using extracellular vesicles as carrier vehicles.


Meeting Report: American Urological Association (AUA)


AUA’s 2018 annual meeting was held May 18-21 in San Francisco. Twelve scientific abstracts featured focused ultrasound technology, each around the theme of predicting or measuring outcomes after treatment. One significant highlight was Profound Medical’s presentation of initial data from their TULSA-PRO Ablation Clinical Trial.


Research Roundup


This month, scientists who study focused ultrasound are making progress in brain applications and tumor treatment. In the brain, researchers are elucidating the mechanisms behind how focused ultrasound might be repairing cognitive function in mice with dementia. Others are working to expand our capabilities for monitoring the focused ultrasound procedure to open the blood-brain barrier. With tumor treatment, a Taiwanese group seeks to improve drug delivery to tumors by manipulating the ultrasound parameters.


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

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

Company Profile: Sonic Concepts

Founded in 1989, Sonic Concepts began as an ultrasound transducer development consulting business. Today, the company develops and manufactures premium ultrasonic systems to the biomedical, industrial, marine, and research markets. In 2015, Kyle Morrison succeeded George Keilman as the President of the Bothell, Washington based company. We recently interviewed Morrison about Sonic Concepts’ current work and what he sees for the future of the company and the field of therapeutic ultrasound. 


EDAP-TMS’s Focal One Device Receives FDA Approval


French company EDAP-TMS has announced that its Focal One device has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for the ablation of prostate tissue. Focal One fuses MR and 3D biopsy data with real-time ultrasound imaging, allowing urologists to view integrated, detailed 3D images of the prostate to guide ablation. Another EDAP device – Ablatherm HIFU – was approved in November 2015 also for the ablation of prostate tissue. 


FUS Partners Shares Early Success Story


HistoSonics has closed its latest financing with additional investment from friends of the Foundation, facilitated by the new FUS Partners program. The round, led by Foundation board member and serial entrepreneur Fred Moll, solidly positions HistoSonics for future growth. CEO Mike Blue expressed his appreciation to the Foundation and his new investors, saying, “We are grateful for the additional support and are excited about the future.”


FDA Announces Innovation Challenge for Devices to Prevent and Treat Opioid Use Disorder


The FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) is now accepting applications for the FDA Innovation Challenge: Devices to Prevent and Treat Opioid Use Disorder. Applicants selected for the Challenge will work directly with the FDA to accelerate the development and eventual review of marketing applications for innovative products, similar to what occurs under the Breakthrough Devices Program. Learn more in an upcoming webinar and apply before September 30, 2018.


Tell us about your industry news for our next newsletter >
 Media Coverage
South China Morning Post | US Brain Surgeon Says More Awareness Needed of Ultrasound Technology That Could Treat Cancer, Hong Kong’s No 1 Killer 6/10/18

24/7 Wall Street | EDAP Wins Big with FDA Clearance 6/8/18

UVA Today | Former Professor’s Battle with Parkinson’s Disease Leads to Inspirational Book 6/6/18

Mass Device | Insightec Wins Medicare Coverage in 10 States 6/5/18

Veterinary Practice News | Veterinary Study Shows Promise for Noninvasive Echotherapy Treatment 6/5/18

DOTmed | Insightec's MR-guided Focused Ultrasound Treatment for Essential Tremor Now Covered by Medicare 6/4/18

Daily Progress | UVA Leading Use of Focused Ultrasound for Rare Brain Masses 6/3/18

UVA Today | Can Focused Sound Waves Fix Rare ‘Giggling’ Form of Epilepsy? 5/31/18

NBC 29 | UVA Targets 'Giggling' Epilepsy, as Seen on 'Grey's Anatomy' 5/30/18

Miami Herald | Brain Cancer Treatments Showing Promise with Targeted Therapies. 'Very Exciting Stuff.' 5/25/18

ICR | How AI Technologies Can Learn How to Spot and Visualise Cancer 5/15/18
 Upcoming Events
July 17-21, 2018 40th International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Honolulu, HI

July 22-26, 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, Chicago, IL

July 29-August 2, 2018 American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN

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

October 21-25, 2018 6th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, Reston, VA 
Abstract Deadline is July 2, 2018

See the full calendar and submit your event >