Foundation’s First Research Award Recipient, Richard Price, Receives $3.3 Million in Follow On Funding from the NIH


Research activities at the Foundation’s first Center of Excellence, located at the University of Virginia, have once again made national news. The Center’s Research Director Richard J. Price, PhD and his collaborator at Johns Hopkins University, Justin Hanes, PhD, have received a $3.3 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The grant will enable the researchers to continue developing new, focused ultrasound-mediated treatments that deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), the membrane that prevents foreign substances – such as chemotherapies – from entering the brain.

Price, who is a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Virginia, has been investigating a novel combination of nanoparticles, microbubbles and focused ultrasound – a combination that he believes could effectively treat and possibly cure diseases of the central nervous system, including brain tumors, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Besides surmounting the daunting technical challenges of delivering drugs across the BBB, the envisioned treatments will use smaller doses of drugs and deliver them at higher concentrations than current therapies. For patients, this could mean less systemic toxicity, fewer side effects and more effective therapy.

Foundation research awards helped lay the groundwork for NIH grant

The NIH grant provides follow-on funding to a $100,000 research award that Price received in 2007. His co-investigator on the award, which was the first presented by the Foundation, was UVA neurosurgeon Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD.  A preclinical project, its aim was to develop a drug delivery method for brain tumors that combined the use of microbubbles, nanoparticles and focused ultrasound. Experiments monitored nanoparticle delivery, blood flow changes, and tumor regression.

In proposing the project, Price wrote, “We anticipate that these studies will result in the successful development of a delivery method and agent(s) suitable for preclinical ing with HIFU.” 

Click here for more information about Price’s first Foundation-funded project, “Targeted Delivery of Controlled-Release Nanoparticles to Brain Tumors Using Contrast Agent Microbubbles and High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound,” and the three papers published about its results.

Price says that a second research award received from the Foundation in 2011, “served as a nice transition while we got the NIH studies up and running.”  Still in progress, the project is determining if focused ultrasound can enable a combined therapy of nanoparticles and microbubbles to move across the BBB and treat glioblastoma multiforme (GBMs) tumors.  Highly aggressive and deadly, GBMs are the most common form of primary brain cancer and have an extremely poor prognosis. Project co-investigators are G. Wilson Miller, PhD of the University of Virginia and Justin Hanes, PhD of Johns Hopkins University.    Written by Ellen C., McKenna

Click here to read about Price’s second Research Award project, “Delivery of Brain Tumor Penetrating Nanoparticles Across the Blood-Brain Barrier with MRgFUS.”

Read related newsletter articles:

FUSF’s first Center of Excellence is making a mark on focused ultrasound field (September 2011)

Novel treatment for deadly brain tumors combines nanoparticles, microbubbles and focused ultrasound (May 2011)   

Researcher profile: Leading drug delivery investigator, Richard J. Price, Ph.D., becomes Research Director of UVA Focused Ultrasound Center (December 2010)