Blood-Brain Barrier Workshop: Experts Document State of the Field, Develop Roadmap for Future Studies


BBB workshop cover 2017The Foundation hosted a blood-brain barrier (BBB) workshop November 16-17, 2017 in Washington, DC, to document the state of the field for using focused ultrasound to open the BBB. Four years after the first workshop on this topic, the meeting aimed to answer key questions, identify knowledge and technology gaps, and create an updated roadmap of current and future clinical studies. Experts in focused ultrasound, neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, and neuroscience attended the two-day meeting together with scientific staff from the Foundation, FDA scientists, and manufacturer representatives.

“Now that clinical trials are underway using focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier, it’s a good time for the physicians and scientists who are using it to gather,” said Tim Meakem, MD, the Foundation’s Co-Chief Medical Officer. “Accelerating the development of this biomechanism takes a shared vision, collaboration, and group problem-solving approach.”

The group shared their clinical experiences to date, discussed disease-specific lessons learned, and debated safety and efficacy issues with an expert panel. The workshop addressed the technical challenges in completing the clinical trials already underway in Alzheimer’s disease and glioma and looked down the road to future trials and new indications, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, and epilepsy.

“These workshops help achieve the Foundation’s mission to accelerate the technology and promote its adoption,” said Jessica Foley, PhD, the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer. “Opening the blood-brain barrier could be the mechanism that has the greatest impact on changing patient care in many different serious health conditions.”

BBB Workshop 2Deliverables from the workshop will include:

  • A roadmap for documenting current clinical trials and prioritizing future clinical trials using focused ultrasound to open the BBB.
  • A description of challenges and possible solutions that can be included in future research projects.
  • A meeting summary/white paper that will be available in the near future.