40 Years of Focused Ultrasound: Pioneer Shares Wisdom with Foundation and UVA


Focused ultrasound technology pioneer and entrepreneur Naren Sanghvi, PhD visited the University of Virginia (UVA) and the Foundation on July 8th to discuss prostate cancer treatment and the future of the field.

Dr. Kassell welcomes Dr. Naren Sanghvi. “The visit has been fantastic. I consider it a privilege to finally meet one of the true pioneers in the field,” said Dr. Kassell.

Mr. Sanghvi is a true legend, having begun work with focused ultrasound in the Fry brothers’ laboratory at Indiana University (IU) 40 years ago. Following his work on a system to treat brain disorders for several years, he and Dr. FJ Fry sought other potential applications of the technology. After discussions with the IU urology chair in 1986, he began the pursuit of treating the prostate with focused ultrasound and formed a company, Focused Surgery, which eventually became SonaCare Medical. Today, SonaCare is a leader in the field, with 14,000 prostate cancer patients treated using their Sonablate System at 250 clinical sites worldwide.

At the UVA Department of Urology, Mr. Sanghvi met with clinicians and scientists to discuss the Sonablate system and share long term clinical data. He showed results from a Japanese study of more than 800 prostate cancer patients. The ongoing study includes patients that have been treated with focused ultrasound over the last 13 years with at least two years of follow-up. The results show excellent survival rates and low complications. He is excited about the possibility of the system being available to treat men with prostate cancer commercially in the United States. SonaCare’s system is currently under regulatory review, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will host an Advisory Committee Panel meeting on October 2, 2014 to assess the Sonablate 450 for the treatment of recurrent prostate cancer.

In addition to enthusiasm for Sonablate, Mr. Sanghvi is very positive about the entire field. “Therapeutic ultrasound is a significant tool. As we obtain regulatory approvals and prove ourselves in the clinical arena, it is going to have a major impact on the way that we manage and treat benign and malignant disease.” He also believes the Foundation will be instrumental to the field reaching its full potential. “The Foundation plays a unique and critical role,” Mr. Sanghvi says. “They are great advocates and unbiased representatives of the entire ecosystem. The collaborations and resources they contribute help everybody — scientists, clinicians, academics, industry, and even patients — to be successful.”