Recently Completed Foundation-Funded Research


Key Points

  • The Foundation funded three projects that have been completed in the first half of 2021.
  • Topics include improved imaging for focused ultrasound brain treatments, treating low-grade tumors in dogs, and a preclinical pancreatic cancer model that responded to histotripsy.

stock microscope lab researchImproving MRI Guidance for Focused Ultrasound Brain Treatments
A collaborative team of researchers at the University of Virginia and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University developed an additive to the water coupling used for transcranial focused ultrasound treatments that makes the water “invisible” during MRI scans. One challenge with a typical brain treatment is that the degassed water coupling bath degrades the quality of MR images and makes it more difficult to accurately guide the focused ultrasound energy. The new invisible bath uses iron oxide nanoparticles to drastically reduce the brightness of the water, thereby improving the quality of the MR images. This is an innovative advance that could make focused ultrasound treatments in the brain more accurate and effective.

Treating Low-Grade Tumors in Dogs
Researchers at Oklahoma State University sought to determine whether two types of focused ultrasound—histotripsy and ablation—would be effective in treating various types of low-grade tumors in dogs. The group treated a total of 11 dogs with six different types of tumors and then compared the therapeutic and immunological effectiveness of the treatments. The six dogs that received ablation had a low-grade mammary mass and mast cell, fibroma, schwannoma, and apocrine gland tumors. The five dogs that received histotripsy had mammary, papillary, or mast cell tumors. Immunological responses varied by patient. Some of the dogs that underwent ablative treatments had complete tumor remission. Focused ultrasound ablation may be an effective treatment, even for high-grade tumors. Future studies could use histotripsy to target the entire tumor volume in one session or combine ablation and histotripsy.

Treating Pancreatic Cancer with Histotripsy
Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University developed and tested a new preclinical model and a new histotripsy (a non-thermal type of focused ultrasound) system for treating pancreatic cancer. In “Development of Novel Porcine Models of Orthotopic Pancreatic Cancer for FUS and Histotripsy Tumor Ablation Applications,” a team led by Irving Coy Allen, PhD, MBA, MS, Associate Professor of Inflammatory Disease in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, developed a porcine model of pancreatic cancer and then treated the animals with an adapted histotripsy transducer. They also studied the best parameters for using histotripsy to treat pancreatic cancer and developed a protocol for subject positioning and preparation and for locating the tumor on the pancreas. In the treatment experiments, the group was able to use histotripsy to partially ablate the tumors, which decreased the average tumor size and extended progression-free and overall survival.