Can Focused Ultrasound Assist Cancer Immunotherapy?
Cancer immunotherapies are agents that harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer. Unlike traditional cancer treatments that directly kill tumor cells (such as chemotherapy and radiation), immunotherapy operates through the intermediary of the immune system. Immunotherapies empower the immune system to specifically seek out and destroy cancer cells. Because of the immune system’s extraordinary power to selectively target cancer antigens and adapt to a changing landscape of antigens, this approach has the potential to greatly improve cancer treatment, providing durable, long-term responses in many cases. Focused ultrasound may also have an impact on this burgeoning field.
The Foundation recently hosted UVA professor Tim Bullock to teach the staff and members of the focused ultrasound community the basics about cancer immunotherapy.
|"Cancer immunotherapy... continues to surge as clinical researchers amass evidence that the immune system can be a powerful ally against tumors. One big focus now is mixing and matching treatments: combining two novel immunotherapies."
– Science Magazine, Areas to Watch 2015
FUS Induces an Immune Response
Many preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that FUS can elicit an immune response (see more). One type of immune response to FUS is the stimulation of tumor cells to release antigens and danger signals that alert the body to use its natural ability to fight the cancer. Since 1992, studies have shown that FUS alone produces immunological effects. Its role in cancer immunotherapy began with preclinical studies that verified its ability to elicit a measurable immune response, to enhance overall survival, and to prevent tumor regrowth. A list of these studies and their immunological effects is available on our website. Learn More >
Low and High Intensity FUS
Chandan Guha at Montefiore Medical Center has been using low intensity FUS (LOFU) prior to high intensity FUS thermal ablation to give the tumors a “sonic shock,” boosting the immune response. Read about his results >
FUS in Combination with Other Therapies
Some studies are already showing that FUS may also improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation. Another idea is to combine FUS with immunotherapy drugs.
This Focus Feature serves as an introduction and brief glimpse into the role of FUS in this exciting, complex, and promising new field of research. Watch the newsletter for reporting on future immunotherapy milestones, and stay informed on the Foundation’s Immunomodulation page, which includes resources and further describes FUS’s role in immunotherapy.