Treating Senator John McCain: Can Focused Ultrasound Help Patients with Glioblastoma and Other Brain Tumors?

Written by Neal F. Kassell, MD

The research on glioblastoma is robust — and showing great promise. A major portion of the Foundation’s resources is directed toward pre-clinical laboratory projects and clinical trials to evaluate the role of FUS in managing GBM. (Learn about the Foundation’s GBM consortium project.) Areas of focus include: destroying the tumor; stimulating the body’s immune response (promoting anti-tumor immune response); and opening the blood-brain barrier to enhance delivery and effectiveness of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other drugs (reducing toxicity and side-effects). Below are just a few observations from some of the more recent publications:

  • “It is now well-established that FUS in conjunction with contrast agent microbubbles may be used to [open the blood-brain barrier to deliver drugs to the brain] … FUS-mediated BBB disruption has the potential to fundamentally change how [brain tumors] are treated.” View abstract.
  • “Focused ultrasound-enhanced [drug] delivery significantly retarded glioma progression [in mice], with a significantly increased median survival as compared to the group [treated without FUS].” View abstract.
  • “Transcranial focused ultrasound can noninvasively transmit acoustic energy with a high degree of accuracy and safety to targets and regions within the brain … FUS offers a multifaceted approach to the treatment of brain tumors.” View abstract.
  • Using focused ultrasound, “several therapeutic agents have been delivered to the brain resulting in significant improvements in pathology in models of glioblastoma and Alzheimer’s disease.” View abstract.

Visit our brain tumor page for details on the state of the field, unique benefits/advantages of FUS for GBM treatment, information about clinical trials, and additional research and resources.

We are optimistic that this research will have a critical impact in treating GBM, and within the next few years FUS will become a part of the mainstream therapy for these patients. Our short-term goal is to make focused ultrasound more accessible to patients through supporting clinical trials, getting us closer to the end goal of saving lives as quickly as possible. Though the FUS field is growing exponentially — with more than 22 regulatory approvals worldwide, including five by the FDA, and more than 50 additional clinical indications such as GBM in various stages of development — we still have much to do. Please check out the helpful links below and consider joining the fight by spreading the word and helping us bring this promising technology to as many people as we can, as soon as we can.

Be well,

Additional links:

Download a free copy of John Grisham’s The Tumor, a non-legal thriller discussing focused ultrasound, which he has called “the most important book I’ve ever written.”

Read this blog on Medium.