On July 18-19, the Foundation – in conjunction with the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) – hosted a Focused Ultrasound and Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop in Arlington, Virginia. The summit convened more than 50 of the world’s leading experts in the field of therapeutic ultrasound and cancer immunotherapy from 27 organizations across academia, industry, government, and advocacy.
The ultimate goal of the Foundation’s Immunotherapy Program is to reduce the time it takes for focused ultrasound and immunotherapy combination treatments to reach clinical adoption. The summit was another step toward accomplishing this goal, by critically evaluating the current body of evidence, assessing the value of ongoing work, and creating a roadmap of projects to address knowledge gaps and burning questions. Bringing together all critical stakeholders – researchers, clinicians, industry, government, and others – in an environment that encouraged free dissemination of information and ideas fostered a collaborative spirit that will greatly benefit the advancement of this field.
“There has been tremendous progress over the past few years demonstrating focused ultrasound’s ability to elicit an anti-tumor immune response, particularly in combination with immunotherapies,” said Foundation Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD. “This workshop was intended to facilitate collaboration, spark innovative project ideas among researchers, and map out a clear path forward.”
The meeting built upon an established relationship between the Foundation and CRI. The two organizations hosted similar workshops in February 2015 and October 2016 and teamed up with the Melanoma Research Alliance to fund a preclinical project using focused ultrasound to enhance immunotherapy for melanoma brain metastases. In 2017, the Foundation and CRI announced a formal partnership which led to co-funding a project by Gavin Dunn, MD, PhD, and his team at Washington University in St. Louis to investigate which types of focused ultrasound are best to increase tumor exposure to the immune system and how the sound waves affect the immune cells within the tumor.
“The Foundation greatly values our collaboration with the Cancer Research Institute and their guidance and expertise as we work to marry the fields of focused ultrasound and cancer immunotherapy and advance new treatments toward clinical adoption,” explained Foley.
A white paper summarizing the discussion and outputs of the workshop will be available and distributed in the coming weeks.