A major milestone in the evolution of the field of focused ultrasound has been achieved. The first treatment in a 20-patient pilot study assessing the feasibility, safety, and preliminary efficacy of MR-guided focused ultrasound for dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease was successfully performed in Korea. This groundbreaking study is being funded in partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
This work is the first to use focused ultrasound on a new target within the brain, the globus pallidus. At this time, focused ultrasound is only being assessed to treat one side of the brain, so it will affect dyskinesia unilaterally. If successful, the study could offer an alternative approach for certain patients with Parkinson's disease who become disabled by dyskinesia, have failed medical therapy, and choose not to have a traditional invasive surgical treatment.
Read more about this first treatment, which was conducted by Dr. Jin Woo Chang, Director of the Brain Research Institute at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital in Seoul, Korea. The Michael J. Fox Foundation's "FoxFeed" blog post also includes information about the study and an explanation of why Parkinson's patients get dyskinesia.
Practical Neurology Cover Story on Focused Ultrasound The "Cover Focus" story in the December 2013 issue of Practical Neurology features an interview with University of Virginia neurologist Dr. Binit B. Shah about focused ultrasound's potential to provide a noninvasive, non-pharmacologic option to treat the tremor of Parkinson's disease.
The article does an excellent job of communicating the potential benefits of focused ultrasound for this indication by discussing the technology, the data, and the ideal patient.
Physics Pioneer Prof. Gail ter Haar
Gail ter Haar Draws a Crowd at FDA to Discuss FUS Quality Assurance and Standardization
Focused ultrasound physics pioneer Professor Gail ter Haar, head of the Foundation's Center of Excellence at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, traveled with Foundation staff to Washington to deliver a presentation to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on her team's work in quality assurance and standardization of high intensity focused ultrasound.
Her talk attracted more than 70 members of the FDA scientific and clinical regulatory staff, either in person or via webcast. Following the talk, she toured the laboratories of the Ultrasonics group within the Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, where she and the team discussed the challenges of acoustic measurements and potential collaborative opportunities.
Prof. ter Haar also visited the offices of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (an institute of the National Institutes of Health), where she spoke to a group of program officers about her team's efforts in bringing new image-guided focused ultrasound devices to the clinic. Discussions that followed addressed the challenges as well as the potential future clinical applications for this work.
"The state-of-the-art preclinical and clinical studies being conducted in Prof. ter Haar's laboratory represent the type of research necessary to establish the safety and effectiveness of the technology, and it was very beneficial for FDA staff to hear first-hand of this work and to discuss it with her" - Gerald Harris, PhD, NIH Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories' Director of Ultrasonics
Applications Open for Global Internship Program
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is launching an international internship opportunity for high school and university undergraduate students who are interested in the physical and life sciences. Interns supported through this program must be working in an established focused ultrasound laboratory under a researcher who is recognized in this field.
Interested students should submit their applications to . Each student's mentor must submit a biosketch and letter of support for the applicant. Detailed applicant info can be found here.
Edgar M. Bronfman encouraged the creation of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation
In Memoriam: Edgar M. Bronfman, Charter Member of FUSF Council
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation lost a dear friend, steadfast supporter, and charter Council Member with the death of Edgar M. Bronfman on December 21, 2013. In addition to his philanthropic support, Mr. Bronfman generously supported the Foundation with his time and his extensive and brilliant business acumen. He will be dearly missed.
Mr. Bronfman was President of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation and Chairman and CEO of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd. from 1971-1994. President of the World Jewish Congress for 28 years, he championed the rights of Jewish people around the globe.
"He was the earliest and certainly one of the most ardent and enthusiastic proponents of the Foundation."- Neal F. Kassell, MD
Dr. Jeff Elias’s TEDx Talk Now Available Online
The October 2013 TEDx Charlottesville presentation by the University of Virginia’s Dr. Jeff Elias is now available on our website. Along with study results, his presentation, which was featured in our November Newsletter, included a message of the importance of taking risks. He is inspired by the remarkable individuals who are willing to undergo experimental procedures to improve their lives and the lives of future patients.
Enhanced brain function? Saving an unborn baby? Flooding the lungs to allow sound energy to reach a tumor? An adjunct to radiation therapy? Focused ultrasound is showing the potential to reach unbelievable new frontiers. Read below how researchers are finding creative ways to expand this technology.
Focused ultrasound neuroscience research could lead to a wide range of important uses
Nature Neuroscience: Focused Ultrasound Enhances the Brain's Sensory Perception
As reported in the current issue of Nature Neuroscience, scientists on Dr. William J. Tyler's research team at Virginia Tech were interested in using focused ultrasound to noninvasively modify human brain function. They targeted sensory areas of the brain and were surprised by their findings: low-intensity focused ultrasound significantly improved function by decreasing impulses to the median nerve in the arm thereby enhancing the patients' ability to discriminate between different kinds of stimulation. Secondly, they were impressed that the focused ultrasound could target smaller, more specific areas in the brain as compared to other neuromodulation technologies.
Effect of Lung Flooding and Focused Ultrasound on Lung Tumors
Could it be possible to one day treat lung cancer with focused ultrasound? A group of German researchers is pursuing innovative ideas that may take this technology to previously untreatable tissue in the lungs.
Ultrasound energy can travel through the airy tissue in the lungs, but it is difficult to heat (and therefore ablate) lung tissue because of the air. In the current issue of the European Journal of Medical Research, Dr. Frank Wolfram and his colleagues wondered if they could heat the lung tissue if they flooded it, and the answer was "yes."
In the recently published manuscript, they describe how they used ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound to generate adequate heat to cause lung tissue ablation. They are hopeful that these preliminary results will lead to further studies, and eventually, a treatment for lung cancer.
A case report on the first successful use of focused ultrasound in an unborn child
Obstetrical First: Successful in utero Focused Ultrasound Treatment of Twin
TRAPS occurs when an acardiac (nondeveloping) twin develops alongside a healthy fetus. The acardiac twin cannot survive but takes the blood supply from the healthy baby. Focused ultrasound was applied to blood vessels of the acardiac fetus at the point where the umbilical cord entered the body to occlude blood flow. The procedures were performed from 13 to 17 weeks of gestation, and the normal twin was delivered in good health at 37 weeks and was growing normally with the exception of a congenital pseudoarthrosis.
The Red Journal's physics editors have their eye on focused ultrasound
Article on Focused Ultrasound is Highlighted by Editors of Radiation Oncology
Their summary and commentary, which is only available to subscribers. states that radiation oncologists are interested in focused ultrasound as an emerging technology because it can be used in conjunction with radiation therapy, that its widespread adoption will depend on accumulated clinical data and cost-effectiveness, and that they believe that the challenges being addressed by focused ultrasound physicists will be resolved in time.
Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD, Editor, Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound
Wladyslaw Gedroyc named Editor of the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound, which is now indexed on PubMed
Furthermore, the Journal is now indexed on PubMed, and its articles are now fully accessible and available free on PubMed Central. With PubMed indexing, scientists will discover and cite JTU articles more often, raising the journal's impact within its field. Authors who publish in JTU will benefit because their work will come up in more searches; they may also gain more reviewing opportunities. All JTU articles can be downloaded for free from PubMed Central.
"I congratulate Founding Editor, Dr. Arik Hananel, on his successful launch of this important journal. His leadership made it easy to accept the position, and I look forward to taking the journal to its next level of success."- Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD
JTU Article of the Month – Trans-cranial focused ultrasound without hair shaving
We have seen images of essential tremor patients with their bald heads immediately after focused ultrasound treatment. But could we do the same treatment without shaving their heads? In its January issue, The Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound published a study that tried to determine whether it was possible. Did they succeed – or not?
Celsion Begins ThermoDox + Focused Ultrasound Brain Tumor Program
Celsion Corporation announced last week that it is collaborating with researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School to pursue the possibility of treating glioblastoma brain tumors with ThermoDox®, their heat-activated, liposomal encapsulated doxorubicin product, combined with focused ultrasound.
The collaboration will involve pursing grant applications to fund the research and beginning preclinical studies in the laboratories. Costas D. Arvantis, MD, the research fellow who will be leading the project, stated that ThermoDox® is designed specifically to work with focused ultrasound to cross the blood-brain barrier and create a higher concentration of the chemotherapy agent at the tumor site.
"Brain cancer tumors represent a very high unmet clinical need, and researchers have been pursuing applications with HIFU for many years"- Nicholas Borys, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Reaching more than 30,000 hospital executives, purchasers, and other key stakeholders
HealthCareBusiness News Features Industry Sector Report on Focused Ultrasound
Focused ultrasound secured a spot on the front page of the January 2014 issue of DOTmed's HealthCareBusiness News. The article chronicles the conception of the technology and details the current state of development and its adoption for uterine fibroids, essential tremor, Parkinson's disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and prostate cancer. It also covers next steps for the technology, including the need for widespread reimbursement.
The article reports on the progress of several companies, including InSightec, Philips, Profound, SonaCare, and EDAP. HealthCareBusiness News is a leading industry trade publication.
Hospital and health system administrators look to ECRI for independent, evidence-based purchasing data
ECRI Institute Identifies FUS for Bone Metastases as a Top Technology
MR-guided focused ultrasound for bone cancer pain has earned a spot on the ECRI Institute's 2014 Top 10 Hospital C-Suite Watch List. In making its recommendation, it states that focused ultrasound "offers another option for an important unmet clinical need, but the clinical evidence and reimbursement climate are still developing." They also suggest that although focused ultrasound has limited clinical implications now, early adopters may be interested because of its potential for many additional oncologic applications.
ECRI Institute is an independent research agency providing the healthcare community with information on the value of healthcare technology. Its annual reference guide helps professionals determine if the time is right to adopt a technology in their surgical suites.