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Focused Ultrasound Foundation Awarded $600,000 Grant from Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research


Grant Will Fund Study to Evaluate Focused Ultrasound for Treatment of Dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – (June 18, 2013) – The Focused Ultrasound Foundation (FUSF) has been awarded a $600,000 grant by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) to help fund a pilot study to determine the feasibility, safety and preliminary efficacy of magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound for the treatment of dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Information about the grant on the Michael J. Fox Foundation website

“This study will open up a new frontier for focused ultrasound therapy,” said Dr. Neal Kassell, chairman and founder, The Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “The Michael J. Fox Foundation is strategic with how they allocate their donor dollars, and we are pleased they are helping assess focused ultrasound as a potential treatment of dyskinesia in patients with Parkinson’s.”

“Surgical options, such as DBS and radiofrequency-pallidotomy, have shown sustained effects on improving PD motor symptoms and reducing levodopa-induced motor fluctuations such as dyskinesia,” said Maurizio Facheris, MD, MSc, associate director of research programs, MJFF. “The combination of a high-resolution MRI with non-invasive techniques could translate into a successful alternate therapy for addressing levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s.”

The dyskinesia study is designed to treat 15 patients. The study will build on the experience gained during FUSF-funded clinical trials investigating focused ultrasound as a treatment for essential tremor (ET) and for Parkinsonian tremor. The pilot ET study achieved positive results that have led to a larger pivotal trial for FDA regulatory approval that will begin soon. Both tremor studies target part of the thalamus, deep within the brain. The dyskinesia study will be the first to target another brain structure, part of the globus pallidus.

“Accelerating the development of focused ultrasound treatments for the brain is one of our key initiatives,” says Kassell. “As we move forward, our goal is to build innovative collaborations with other stakeholders such as the MJFF. We believe this is the most effective approach to rapidly advance new treatments for patients with unmet medical needs.”

Dyskinesia is a difficulty or distortion in performing voluntary movements and is probably the most challenging of the drug therapy complications faced by Parkinson’s disease patients, affecting their quality of life. It is a side-effect of levodopa and dopaminergic drug therapy, the most effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease today. The current standard surgical treatment for dyskinesia is Deep Brain Stimulation, which involves implanting a device similar to a pacemaker that is connected to electrodes placed into the brain that send pulses to control symptoms.

The study funded by MJFF will investigate the feasibility, safety and preliminary effectiveness of magnetic resonance (MR) guided focused ultrasound as a non-invasive method to destroy a small volume of targeted tissue in the globus pallidus of the brain to improve motor symptoms and ultimately reduce the dyskinesia.

Patients enrolled in the study will include those who have failed medical therapy, who are not candidates for surgery or who choose not to undergo surgery. The focused ultrasound treatment will be performed with the patient awake, and involves no anesthesia, incisions in the skull or insertion of electrodes into the brain, thus decreasing the risk of complications such as infections or blood clots.


Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive and disabling movement disorder, whose cause is unknown.  The disease involves malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain and affects almost one million people in the United States. With the wave of aging baby boomers, this number is likely to double during the next 20 years. There is no cure for the disease. Current treatments include medications and surgery, which while improving symptoms and quality of life, are often accompanied by significant side effects and complications.


The Focused Ultrasound Foundation was created to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide by accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound therapies. The Foundation works to clear the path to global adoption by coordinating and funding research and educational activities, fostering collaboration among stakeholders, and building awareness of the technology among patients and professionals. The Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that focused ultrasound finds its place as a mainstream therapy for a range of neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and stroke as well as uterine fibroids, cancer and other life-threatening conditions within years, not decades. Since its establishment in 2006, the Foundation has become the largest non-governmental source of funding for focused ultrasound research. More information can be found at


As the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research programs, and has invested over $325 million in research to date. For more information, visit