Brigham and Women's Hospital Awarded $6.3 million Grant from the National Cancer Institute to Study the Use of Focused Ultrasound to Treat Brain Tumors
Nathan McDannold, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and the Director of the Focused Ultrasound Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Ferenc Jolesz, MD, is the B. Leonard Holman Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, and the Vice Chair of Radiology Research and Director of the Image Guided Therapy Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital
Focused ultrasound researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston have been awarded a prestigious five-year, $6.3M Program Project grant from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Imaging Program to study different uses of focused ultrasound for treating brain tumors. The series of studies will develop methods to deliver chemotherapy to brain tumors and expand the "treatment envelope" to enable noninvasive ablation to previously unreachable areas of the brain.
Dr. Ferenc Jolesz, Director of the National Center for Image-Guided Therapy (NCIGT) at BWH, and Dr. Nathan McDannold, Director of the Focused Ultrasound Laboratory at BWH, will serve as co-principal investigators for the grant. The NCIGT is an NIH-funded Biomedical Technology Resource Center that serves as a national resource for all aspects of medical therapy enhanced by computation and imaging, with the common goal of providing more effective patient care.
Dr. Jolesz commented: "Currently available treatments for brain and spinal cord diseases are often ineffective or accompanied by significant side effects. Focused ultrasound shows promise because it is noninvasive and can be focused to a very small area in the brain, including areas infiltrated by cancerous cells." The research team at BWH is creating the type of completely new, innovative therapeutic approaches to brain cancers and other brain diseases that may one day transform practically every area of clinical neuroscience.
The NCI's Cancer Imaging Program fosters advances in medical imaging sciences through support of basic and applied research in cancer imaging and promotion of imaging in clinical trials in order to gain greater understanding of the pathways of cancer biology for the benefit of cancer patients and people at cancer risk. The work that will be done in this grant will build upon more than 20 years of focused ultrasound research at BWH, which has been a successful collaboration between physicists and engineers, clinicians, and industry. The studies aim to advance these applications from the laboratory to clinical trials, and, at the end of the grant, the large-scale work needed to move these game-changing applications will be completed so that their future broad application in clinical neuroscience and in brain research can be realized.
"The workshop was highly productive in creating collaboration to find solutions for current technical issues. Similar to last year, it shows how the Foundation can open up channels of communication among academic researchers, clinicians, and industry."
- John Snell, PhD, FUSF Brain Program Technical Director
2013 Brain Workshop Creates New Collaboration on Ways to Expand the FUS Treatment Envelope in the Brain
The FUSF Brain Program held its 2nd invitational workshop June 17-18, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The meeting brought together clinicians, researchers, and industry representatives to discuss ways to expand focused ultrasound's "treatment envelope" in the brain. That is to expand the locations and indications in the brain that focused ultrasound can reach and treat. Research collaboration and advancement were key parts of this year's workshop.
Representatives from industry (InSightec, Supersonic Imagine), neurosurgeons, engineers, and physicists from leading academic centers in the U.S. (Harvard, Stanford, University of Utah, UC San Diego, University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt) and Europe (Institut Langevin and University Children's Hospital of Zurich) attended the workshop.
Issues Discussed The workshop began with short presentations from researchers on the current size of the brain treatment envelope, how it has been mapped, and what is currently being done to measure the way that ultrasound energy travels through the skull and the brain. "It was great to see the participants talking in the hallways and during meals about how to work together to compare results and solve the problems that prevent us from reaching more areas in the brain," said John Snell, PhD, Technical Director, FUSF Brain Program.
Longer-Term Projects Attendees spent time during the workshop discussing potential new indications for focused ultrasound (FUS) in the brain. Could FUS potentially treat epilepsy, brain tumors, or addiction problems, for example? Collaborations proposed during the workshop included working together to create computer models that can predict how ultrasound will act on the brain and skull, combining data from different institutions to make a large, shared database of similar measurements, and proposing new equipment designs that could increase the size of the treatment envelope.
Ongoing Collaboration "Some of the ideas generated during the workshop will be funded for further study," said John Snell, and he added that, "The collaborations that were initiated during the workshop will produce advances in the way that FUS is used in the brain."
Foundations Collaborate to Deliver Medicine across the Blood-Brain Barrier Using Focused Ultrasound
About 20 leading scientists have been invited to participate in a workshop sponsored by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the Kinetics Foundation to discuss challenges and to propose solutions to enable efficient drug delivery to the brain for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, tumors, and Alzheimer's disease, among others. The workshop will be held September 12-13 in Bethesda, MD.
Proposed topics for discussion include:
The optimum technical parameters to maximize opening of the BBB
Drug delivery methods, such nanoparticles or viral delivery
Properties of the drugs that will used to cross the BBB
The FUS technical experts, circulatory system experts, delivery method experts, surgeons, virologists, and Foundation representatives in attendance will work to create a preclinical roadmap for studies necessary to move this work closer to clinical trials (including specific collaborative projects with potential funding from the Foundations) and a preliminary clinical roadmap for FUS-induced drug delivery in central nervous system applications. Watch future issues of this Newsletter for a summary of the meeting.
InSightec's ExAblate System Receives Extended European CE Mark for Benign & Malignant Bone Tumors
Whether it is benign or malignant, bone tumor pain truly compromises quality of life. Finding noninvasive, non-pharmacologicall ways to treat bone pain is important, and focused ultrasound is filling that role. On July 1, 2013, InSightec announced that it has been granted an extended CE Mark to use their ExAblate MRgFUS system to treat bone tumors. Based on additionally published clinical evidence, their system can now be used to treat bone metastases, multiple myeloma, osteoid osteoma, facet joints, and other bone tumors. InSightec joins Philips in offering this type of treatment for multiple bone pain indications in Europe, proving the technology to be a rapidly growing, safe, and effective tool for physicians to offer their patients relief from pain through this non-surgical, noninvasive, and versatile treatment. READ PRESS RELEASE ►
An upcoming issue of the journal Dermatologic Surgery (published by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery) will include the results of a study showing focused ultrasound to be a feasible and effective treatment for noninvasively reducing the size of lipomas, which are common, benign fat tumors located in the head, neck, shoulders, or back that are usually surgically removed. Surgery can be undesirable or ineffective, and it often leaves troublesome scarring that requires further treatment. The study tested the Slender Medical SM-100 HIFU system (Slender Medical Ltd., Herzliya, Israel, currently available only in a prototype configuration), and concluded focused ultrasound to be a safe and effective noninvasive ablation tool for this indication. Researchers treated 12 lipomas in nine patients and found a statistically significant substantial reduction in volume and no adverse events. READ FULL REPORT ►
JTU Article of the Month – Liver Metastases Case Study
In its inaugural volume published this month, The Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound included an interesting clinical case in which a patient with breast cancer that had metastasized to the liver was experiencing eating difficulties when the size of the liver tumor prevented her stomach from properly emptying. Her physicians treated the large liver tumor with focused ultrasound to reduce its size by 72% and successfully restore the patient's ability to eat and gain weight. This palliative care improved the patient's quality of life. The full-text, open-access journal article is available below. GO TO THE JOURNAL ►