The past year has brought with it many notable achievements, but one milestone best exemplifies the immense progress in the field. There are now more than 100 clinical indications for which focused ultrasound is in various stages of research, development, and commercialization. This is an astonishing increase from the handful that existed when the Foundation was founded in 2006. The Foundation continues to reinforce growth in the field, thanks to the generous support of our donors, board, council and the dedication of our team.
Last month, the Foundation hosted a blood-brain barrier (BBB) workshop in Washington, DC, to document the state of the field for using focused ultrasound to open the BBB. Four years after the first workshop on this topic, the meeting aimed to answer key questions, identify knowledge and technology gaps, and create an updated roadmap of current and future clinical studies.
In October, the Foundation and Sunnybrook Research Institute co-hosted a workshop to address clinical directions for using focused ultrasound to treat psychiatric disorders. The discussion centered on current targets like obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression and the possibility of treating other conditions such as anorexia, bipolar disorder, and addiction. A meeting summary is now available, and we encourage you to share it with your colleagues.
As a key component of the Foundation’s partnership with the Cancer Research Institute, we have established a grant program to jointly fund research projects that will help investigate new focused ultrasound and cancer immunotherapy combination treatments. This first request for proposals seeks preclinical projects relating to how different “modes” of focused ultrasound compare in terms of the immune response generated, and how this immune response correlates with biological, acoustic, and imaging metrics. Letters of intent are due January 15.
Scientific American recently published an article on current uses and new potential applications of focused ultrasound. It mentioned recent data on an emerging use of the technology – neuromodulation – and described how bursts of ultrasound energy may be able to alter brain activity. Foundation chairman Neal Kassell, MD, is quoted regarding how ultrasound energy can be manipulated to produce 18 bioeffects.
Last week, Optum’s Distinguished Engineer, Rick Hamilton, led an interesting webinar entitled, “The Rise of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.” He examined how many technologies are rapidly evolving to create new sources of data and change the way we interact with the physical world. He then discussed use cases for these technologies in healthcare settings and the promise of new insights into wellness and treatment options. The webinar was broadcast via Facebook Live, and the recording has been viewed more than 400 times.
Rick and Susan Goings are trailblazers in their careers. He serves as Chairman and CEO of Tupperware Brands, and she is an acclaimed newscaster and on-air personality. The pair are also generous supporters of the Foundation, sharing in our passion to help advance healthcare innovation.
This has been a year of tremendous growth in the field of focused ultrasound. Your support, enthusiasm, and advocacy have enabled us to advance our mission and improve patients’ lives.
We rely on the generous support of donors to continue our important work. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we recently received a $10 million pledge of unrestricted funds that needs to be matched 1-for-1. We hope you will consider helping us meet this match, appreciating that your gift will be doubled and will help us considerably as we work to advance the field of focused ultrasound.
Israeli company Insightec recently announced that it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to initiate a study evaluating the feasibility and safety of using focused ultrasound to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier in patients with glioblastomas. The study will take place at the University of Maryland and use Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device.
Radiologists from around the world gathered in Chicago from November 26 to December 1 for the 103rd Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). The program featured 17 focused ultrasound abstracts and a special session on innovation in Israel that described the spectrum of clinical applications for focused ultrasound technology.
Virginia Catalyst, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing life sciences throughout Virginia, is offering up to $800,000 of funding to accelerate translational research in the Commonwealth of Virginia through collaborations between industry and Virginia research universities. Letters of intent must be received by February 1, 2018, and awards will be announced in April.
Focused ultrasound is now being investigated to treat more than 100 conditions in a wide range of specialties. This range is evident in the December Research Roundup, which includes studies or review articles on cancer immunotherapy, vascular malformations, and glaucoma. The systemic effect of tumor ablation is the topic of the review article, and clinical advances are being made for patients with the other two diseases.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, insufficient insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells, and genetic and environmental factors. As the disease progresses, the beta cells produce and store insulin, but glucose does not mobilize intracellular calcium, so the insulin is not released. This leads to hyperglycemia and the progression of the disease. To test the feasibility of using ultrasound to treat Type 2 diabetes, researchers at George Washington University completed in vitro work to establish parameters for using ultrasound to trigger release of insulin from the pancreas.
Israeli company Insightec shared news that Koch Disruptive Technologies, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, will lead a $150 million round of investment in the company. Insightec plans to use the funds to drive commercialization of their essential tremor treatment and accelerate innovation in product development.
The Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration has approved Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device to treat essential tremor patients there. The focused ultrasound device ablates – or destroys – a targeted spot in the brain that is responsible for the benign shaking that is the hallmark of the disease. The treatment is also approved in the US, Canada, Europe, Korea, and Japan.