Site Update: Sapienza University Emerging as a Driving Force for FUS in Europe


Since installing an ExAblate 2100 system in May 2010, Sapienza University of Rome has emerged as a driving force for the European focused ultrasound community. Within six months of opening, its clinical team had treated 15 patients with uterine fibroids and was involved in clinical trials for prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer. In fact, the center was the first in the world to use MR-guided focused ultrasound to provide pain palliation for patients with primary pancreatic cancer.

Further boosting its strong start, earlier this year Sapienza announced plans to organize the 1st European Symposium on Focused Ultrasound Therapy.  A highly successful event, the symposium occurred last month with 200 attendees from Europe, Asia and the North America.

FUS as first-line therapy for bone metastasis

In a symposium presentation, Alessandro Napoli, MD, PhD of Sapienza’s Department of Radiological Sciences described yet another precedent-setting success for the center: a clinical trial using MR-guided focused ultrasound as a first-line therapy for bone metastasis. In the study, target lesions have not been treated with radiation or other therapies; just MR-guided focused ultrasound is being used.

Twenty patients have been treated so far, mostly for pain palliation. Napoli says that tumor control has also been achieved by modulating the administration of focused ultrasound energy. “We’ve observed incredible results in a population of very sick patients,” he reported. “Pain scores have reached zero within a few days and have remained stable during the follow-up period, which has now been eight to ten months for some patients.”  

Commenting on the broader impact of Sapienza’s results, Joy Polefrone, PhD of the FUS Foundation said, “With an absence of adverse events and measured reduction in pain scores, these results demonstrate that MR-guided focused ultrasound can be safely and effectively used as a primary treatment for bone metastasis.”

She added, “Results also showed necrosis, or cell death, within the soft tissue component of the bone metastases, indicating a future role for local tumor control.”

Napoli said that study results have also had an impact on oncologists at Sapienza. “Our oncologists love this technology and want to propose this method for patients who are not suffering from symptomatic bone mets.” – Written by Ellen C., McKenna

View video interview with Alessandro Napoli, MD, PhD about Sapienza’s bone mets study.

View video in which Alessandro Napoli, MD, PhD provides an overview of Sapienza’s FUS center.