On February 11th in New York, the Foundation partnered with the Cancer Research Institute to convene a one-day meeting of scientists and clinicians to discuss the current status of and future directions for focused ultrasound (FUS) research as it relates to cancer immunotherapy.
The workshop brought together nearly 30 investigators with expertise in cancer immunology, FUS, radiation oncology, and clinical immunotherapy, as well as representatives from three nonprofit organizations dedicated to bringing patients new cancer therapies. “Partnership with the Cancer Research Institute was crucial for making this workshop a success,” said Jessica L. Foley, PhD, the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer. “CRI has been a leader in advancing immunotherapy research and clinical practice for more than 60 years, and the thought leadership provided by their staff and the immunological experts they brought to the discussion helped guide us in the right direction for future research.”
Participants discussed the state of the field, current challenges, and future research directions for using FUS alone or in combination with other cancer immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors and cancer vaccines–with an emphasis on how to prioritize future research directions and encourage collaboration to address knowledge gaps in the field.
“Immunotherapy has tremendous potential to synergize with other cancer treatment modalities, achieving better clinical outcomes while possibly reducing harmful side effects,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, CEO and Director of Scientific Affairs at the Cancer Research Institute. “We believe meetings like that organized in collaboration with Focused Ultrasound Foundation are an invaluable way to begin to discover the full range of potential synergies.”
Ablative therapies – radiation, radiofrequency, cryoablation, laser, and FUS – have all shown the ability to stimulate an immune response in preclinical and clinical studies. In addition, therapies like radiation have demonstrated success when used in combination with immunotherapy, by providing the initial immune response that the immunotherapy can then enhance.
FUS could potentially be effective in combination with immunotherapy. Given its non-invasiveness, use of non-ionizing radiation, and ability for precise ablation with no dose limitations, FUS could be more appealing for this combination therapy than other ablative modalities.
Furthermore, many preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that FUS can elicit an immune response that in laboratory animals has led to enhanced overall survival and protection from growth of new tumors when re-challenged.
We will produce a special issue dedicated to FUS immunomodulation soon.