Foundation-supported BBB Research


The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is committed to advancing the use of FUS to open the BBB and treat a range of neurological conditions. In addition to supporting research through our funding awards, we have organized several workshops exploring this topic, including a September 2013 BBB Workshop, a February 2015 Immunotherapy Workshop, and a September 2015 Alzheimer’s Workshop.

The Foundation funded Sunnybrook’s first-in-human clinical trial through the Cornelia Flagg Keller Memorial Fund for Brain Research. In addition, we have supported six major BBB studies since 2011, and our initial investment of $300,000 has yielded more than $3 million in follow-on funding.

2015: Neuronavigation-Guided and Ultrasound-Monitored Human BBB-Opening Focused Ultrasound System by Elisa Konofagou and her associates at Columbia University will further BBB research for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

2015: Enhancement of FUS Mediated Delivery of Stem Cells to Brain by Paul Fishman and his team at the University of Maryland will assess the capacity of an external magnet to enhance delivery of nanoparticles plus stem cells to the brain through the BBB.

2015: A University of Virginia team led by immunologist Timothy Bullock is using FUS to open the BBB and increase the natural immune response to tumors in the brain. Through the opened BBB, they will deliver leading edge immunotherapies to increase the activation, survival, and function of tumor-killing immune cells in the area of the brain metastases. This research award was funded by Foundation donors in conjunction with gifts from the Melanoma Research Alliance and Cancer Research Institute.

2012: Blood-brain Barrier Opening for Facilitating Drug Delivery in Neurodegenerative Diseases in Non-human Primates was completed by Elisa Konofagou and her group at Columbia University. This work was featured as the lead story in the Foundation’s June 2015 newsletter.

2011: A Study to Evaluate the Safety and Feasibility of Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption Using Transcranial MRI-Guided Focused Ultrasound with Intravenous Ultrasound Contrast Agents in the Treatment of Brain Tumours with Doxorubicin by Todd Mainprize at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is the predicate for the current clinical trial.

2011: Delivery of Brain Tumor—Penetrating Nanoparticles Across the Blood-brain Barrier with MR-guided Focused Ultrasound was led by Rich Price at the University of Virginia.