Wow. Amazing. These are the two most common words we hear when people learn about focused ultrasound for the first time.
But what is most amazing to me is that the field of focused ultrasound has grown more rapidly than any of us ever could have imagined. And as the number of potential applications increases, the amount of work required to translate our vision into reality becomes daunting.
The Foundation and the Lockhart family recently presented Graeme Woodworth, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with the 2018 Andrew J. Lockhart Memorial Prize. Created in memory of Andrew Lockhart, who passed away from a rare abdominal cancer, the $75,000 award is given to an investigator who has made outstanding contributions in advancing cancer treatment using focused ultrasound and demonstrates great potential for further achievements in the field.
Syaru Shirley Lin, PhD, has been elected to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Previously a partner at Goldman Sachs, Lin led the firm's efforts in private equity and venture capital in Asia. She was also a founding board member of Alibaba Group and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation. Lin hopes to leverage her experience in finance and understanding of Asia to help the Foundation further progress there.
The 2019 Winter School on Therapeutic Ultrasound will be held March 3-8 in Les Houches, France. The School features lectures from esteemed researchers in the field and offers an excellent opportunity for students and early career professionals to meet and connect with veterans in focused ultrasound. This year, the Foundation will sponsor a limited number of students to attend the Winter School.
Device manufacturer Insightec announced that their Exablate Neuro device has earned approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease whose main symptom is tremor. This approval was based on a clinical trial of 27 patients at the University of Virginia and Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. The results of that study, which was funded in part by the Foundation, were published in JAMA Neurology in December 2017.
Sunnybrook Research Institute, the research enterprise of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and the Gairdner Foundation, an organization that recognizes and rewards international excellence in fundamental research that impacts human health, recently hosted a two-day symposium entitled "Changing Medicine Forever" to explore advances in focused ultrasound to treat the brain. The Focused Ultrasound Foundation helped sponsor the event, and all of the presenters at the conference were researchers that the Foundation supports or has supported through our research awards program.
On October 21, experts gathered for a Foundation-sponsored workshop to discuss the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and Parkinson’s disease. More than 30 participants from healthcare, industry, academia, government, and the Foundation identified opportunities and challenges for delivering therapeutic agents across the BBB to find new and innovative treatment options for Parkinson’s. A summary of the workshop’s major outcomes is now available. The Foundation is grateful for the work of Drs. Paul Fishman and Nir Lipsman, who organized and led the workshop.
As the focused ultrasound field grows, an increasing number of pioneering researchers are being recognized for their innovative work to advance this technology. Recent award recipients include Frank Wolfram, PhD, Kullervo Hynynen, PhD, Charles Cain, PhD, Elisa Konofagou, PhD, and Yun Jing, PhD. We ask the community to please notify us of future awards that we should acknowledge.
The Foundation’s External Awards Program has selected a new project for funding in the final quarter of 2018. Alan Verkman, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Physiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, will conduct a study entitled, “Focused ultrasound for therapy of neuromyelitis optica – an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system.” Dr. Verkman and his research team seek to determine whether they can deliver antibody and cell therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier to reduce neuroinflammation and promote remyelination in this disease.
The Foundation recently funded a study by Kim Butts Pauly, PhD, and her colleagues at Stanford University to design and fabricate a coil system that could deliver faster and clearer imaging in brain treatments. In “Neuro Focused Ultrasound MR Coil Fabrication and Testing,” the team set out to optimize sensitivity at the focus of the transducer, maintain a low profile, and overcome graphite-induced dielectric artifact.
The 3rd annual meeting of Taiwan Association of Interventional and Therapeutic Ultrasound (TAITU) was held November 25, at Taiwan University Public Health College following the society’s mayoral and magisterial elections the previous day. With a theme of “State of the Art in Asia: Interventional and Therapeutic Ultrasound,” the sessions were dedicated in loving memory of Professor Fon-Jou Hsieh (1946-2018), a renowned Taiwanese obstetrician who pioneered the use of diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound and founded TAITU.
Radiologists from around the world gathered in Chicago November 25-30, for the 104th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). The program featured 14 focused ultrasound abstracts, which covered bone, cancer, women’s health, and prostate applications.
Which drugs or biological molecules might be best suited for delivery across the blood-brain barrier? Have researchers successfully developed a new technique that will make neuromodulation a clinical possibility? Could a new ablation approach reduce the time it takes to treat benign breast lesions while maintaining safety and efficacy? The answers to these questions can be found in this month’s Research Roundup.
French manufacturer CarThera recently closed a Series B funding round, raising €9M (over $10.2 million). Carthera produces Sonocloud, an implantable focused ultrasound device intended to disrupt a larger portion of the blood-brain barrier than has been demonstrated with transcranial approaches. The company will use the Series B funding to further clinical development of its technology for brain cancer (glioblastoma) and other brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Insightec Announces CE Clearance for Siemens Scanners, New Hires
Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device has earned the CE mark to integrate with Siemens Healthineers MR imaging products. The CE mark includes approval for treatment of medication-refractory essential tremor, tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease, and neuropathic pain. The FDA approved this collaboration between the two companies’ products in October.