I recently attended the Society for Thermal Medicine‘s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Throughout the meeting it became abundantly clear that there is a rationale for clinical applications of mild hyperthermia — especially with the significant number of phase III clinical trial data shown in an overview presentation given by Elizabeth Repasky, Ph.D. from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, as well as presentation of work by the leading clinical group from Munich of Prof. Dr. Rolf Issels, M.D. and Dr. Lars Lindner. A randomized phase III clinical trial performed by Issels and Lindner was recently published in Lancet Oncology and showed a significant survival benefit when mild hyperthermia (heating to ~42 °C) is delivered in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
So, you might ask, why should the FUS community be interested in mild hyperthermia?
While it has been shown that mild hyperthermia provides a significant survival benefit when used in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, most current devices are not capable of delivering a thermal dose consistently and reliability to the region of interest and/or require more invasive techniques for hyperthermia delivery or temperature monitoring. FUS can be used to non-invasively deliver mild hyperthermia to a large number of regions of the body and the temperature change can be monitored using magnetic resonance imaging thermometry in real time to assure homogeneous heating. In fact, focused ultrasound might just be the solution to deliver hyperthermia for cancer therapy. And having seen the data evidencing the potential for hyperthermia to improve effects of cancer therapy, I’m eager to see studies performed that allow us to directly determine the impact of FUS for hyperthermia.