Foundation board member and bestselling author John Grisham has teamed up with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), on an opinion piece discussing how technologies like focused ultrasound can help drive down healthcare spending. "This Technology is Going to Change Healthcare" appears in the current issue of It is Innovation (i3) magazine, CTA's flagship publication focusing on innovation in technology, policy, and business. The magazine is circulated to more than 2,000 CTA member companies and all members of Congress, reaching tens of thousands of people. Grisham and Shapiro first connected back in 2018 when the Foundation traveled to Las Vegas for CTA’s annual trade show, CES, to educate more than 180,000 consumers, media, and industry professionals about focused ultrasound and The Tumor.
One in five adults (47.6 million) in the United States, and one in six youths aged 6–17 years (7.7 million), suffer from some form of mental illness. The medical and financial costs to patients and society are significant and include lost productivity, increased financial and emotional responsibilities on family members, serious morbidities, and – perhaps of greatest concern – markedly reduced life expectancies (e.g., 20–25 fewer years in those with severe mental illness).
Although suicide rates are 10-fold higher than in the general population, the major cause of premature death in patients with severe mental illness is cardiovascular disease according to the World Health Organization. Patients with severe mental illness in general are much heavier, far less active, may smoke up to three times as many cigarettes, and are less likely to seek and utilize medical care.
Although still a busy consultant in the field, Lawrence A. Crum, PhD, recently retired as a Research Professor of Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington (UW). He has also retired from his posts as Principal Physicist in UW's Applied Physics Laboratory and as Founder/Past Director of the Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound, a translational research enterprise that builds collaboration between industry, research, and academia for the development of technology.
To capture the history and work of this focused ultrasound visionary, the Foundation's Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD, interviewed Dr. Crum. She first met him almost 20 years ago, when she arrived at the University of Washington to begin her PhD work. Although Shahram Vaezy, PhD, was her direct advisor, Dr. Crum encouraged her to pursue focused ultrasound research, served on her dissertation committee, and supported her work then – and throughout her career.
The traditional path to bring new medical therapies from the laboratory bench to the patients' bedside is relatively straight: Test first in cell culture, then in small laboratory animals, next in larger laboratory animals, and finally in humans. However, this process has resulted in a spectacularly high failure rate. Recent studies indicate that less that 10 percent of drugs entering clinical trials receive FDA approval – and that success rate is even lower for chemotherapeutics. Why do so many drugs, particularly chemotherapies, fail in clinical trials?
One significant weakness in the development pipeline is the preclinical data used to determine whether a specific drug warrants a clinical trial. This crucial evidence usually comes from small animal studies – in other words, the mouse. Laboratory mice live extremely well-controlled lives: Their diets and environments are sterilized and standardized. Their light exposure and temperature are carefully regulated. Mice in a study are the same age and are virtually indistinguishable genetically. All of this is intentional – it reduces the number of variables and confounding factors, simplifying data analysis. But does this decades-old system do more harm than good?
[This blog was adapted from a presentation made by Morry Blumenfeld on June 14, 2019, at the joint meeting of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) and the European Focused Ultrasound Charitable Society (EUFUS) in Barcelona, Spain.]
In June, I was honored to have been invited by EUFUS to present a tribute to my close friend, Professor Ferenc A. Jolesz, who was instrumental in all the subjects that were considered during the recent ISTU/EUFUS meeting in Barcelona. I am privileged to have taken part in the journey that Ferenc and I experienced together in the development of image-guided therapy and focused ultrasound.