April 2018 Research Roundup


This month’s research report highlights the impact of focused ultrasound across multiple medical specialties. As biomarkers have become critical tools for early detection and treatment of malignant and benign tumors, focused ultrasound could help researchers discover them sooner. A Stanford University team published their findings on a study co-funded by the Foundation. Neuromodulation is a promising non-narcotic solution for treating various types of pain. A University of Washington group conducted a pilot study using focused ultrasound neuromodulation to identify which nerves could be the source of pain in patients with unilateral limb amputations. And finally, it might be possible to use focused ultrasound plus microbubbles to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) outside of an MRI suite. Biomedical engineers at Columbia University worked to provide effective alternative imaging techniques.


Tumor Characterization by Ultrasound-release of Multiple Protein and MicroRNA Biomarkers, Preclinical and Clinical Evidence.
A multi-disciplinary group from Stanford University is studying the use of low frequency ultrasound to amplify the release of tumor cell biomarkers into the circulation. The in vitro, mouse, and human study could assist researchers in identifying a blood-based biomarker panel for detecting cancer, characterizing tumors or unknown cellular masses, and monitoring therapy. Partially funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, see PLoS ONE.

Intense Focused Ultrasound Preferentially Stimulates Transected Nerves Within Residual Limbs: Pilot Study.
In a pilot clinical study, researchers and physicians at the University of Washington sought to determine whether ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound could be used to differentially stimulate the ends of transected nerves in the residual limbs of patients with unilateral amputations. Could this method help physicians identify the source of phantom or residual limb pain? See Pain Medicine.

Power Cavitation-guided Blood-Brain Barrier Opening with Focused Ultrasound and Microbubbles.
Elisa Konofagou’s biomedical engineering group at Columbia University has developed a novel method to monitor microbubble plus focused ultrasound-induced opening of the BBB. Their new high-resolution technique, called power cavitation imaging, could eliminate the need for MRI guidance during these types of procedures. See Physics in Medicine and Biology.