Workshop Held to Define Roadmap for Focused Ultrasound and Pancreatic Cancer


The Foundation recently hosted a workshop to create a clinical roadmap seeking to develop focused ultrasound for use in treating pancreatic cancer. On February 28 and March 1, 2019, a wide range of experts convened in Bethesda, Maryland, to discuss the state of the technology, past studies, current challenges, and future preclinical and clinical research directions for using focused ultrasound to treat this devastating disease.

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Led by Joo-Ha Hwang, MD, PhD, Stanford University Professor of Medicine in Gastroenterology and Hepatology and President of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound, the workshop’s diverse group of attendees included leaders in medical oncology, surgery, cancer immunotherapy, focused ultrasound ablation and histotripsy, government regulatory bodies, industry, and scientific staff from the Cancer Research Institute and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.

“The workshop provided an ideal setting for dialogue between the physicians and scientists who are beginning to use focused ultrasound to treat pancreatic cancer,” said Tim Meakem, MD, the Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer.

“We are grateful to Dr. Hwang for his leadership in navigating the leading minds on pancreatic cancer through the robust agenda,” added Michael Broad, PhD, the Foundation’s Director of Global Relations.

The group identified preclinical steps that are currently blocking clinical trials and outlined three different pathways for attacking this devastating disease.

Clinical trials are underway in Europe, and the Foundation will be tracking them in a new registry. Focused ultrasound treatment for pancreatic cancer is aimed at pain control and reduction in tumor size and is approved in Europe, Korea, Russia, and China. This use is still very early, and there is a lot of variability in the details of the treatment – notably dosing, frequency, and timing with respect to other treatments. The Foundation is in the final stages of launching the ARRAY pancreatic cancer registry to capture these details to better understand the best practices, which will guide it in funding future research. Of the 10 sites that are participating in the ARRAY registry, seven of the principle investigators were able to attend the workshop.

Deliverables from the workshop will include:

  • A roadmap for prioritizing clinical trials.
  • A description of challenges and possible solutions that can be included in future preclinical research projects.
  • A meeting summary/white paper that will be available in the near future.

Researchers, physicians, industry representations, any any other individuals who would like to participate in the Foundation’s efforts in the area of pancreatic cancer should contact Mike Broad or Tim Meakem.