Preclinical Research Demonstrates Potential for Treating Epilepsy
Results of preclinical studies conducted by the Foundation in collaboration with researchers at the University of Virginia and the Swedish Neuroscience Institute demonstrate that it may be feasible to treat certain types of epilepsy noninvasively with focused ultrasound (FUS). Investigators assessed the ability of FUS to reach and ablate the targets for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy and hypothalamic hamartoma utilizing cadavers and skulls filled with gel to mimic the brain. Further technical development is needed to reduce treatment time and the potential for skull heating.
Targeting the brain's amygdala/hippocampus
"We are very encouraged by these preclinical findings," said Stephen Monteith, MD, neurosurgeon at Swedish. "It is still early days, but we are hopeful that we are on the path toward developing FUS as a way of achieving freedom from seizures without having to undergo the risks of surgery."
This work is supported through a partnership between the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the Epilepsy Foundation. The research is being conducted in two phases, starting with preclinical studies to establish technical feasibility followed by a trial in patients to determine clinical feasibility and safety.
FORTUNE Publishes Double Feature on Focused Ultrasound
FORTUNE magazine has published two articles on focused ultrasound. "This is Your Brain on Surgical Sound Waves" appears in the June 30th print issue. It chronicles the early development of MR-guided focused ultrasound and highlights its use for prostate cancer, brain surgery, and drug delivery.
FORTUNE reports the technology is trapped in a "slow-moving medical system" that requires advocates like the Foundation to speed progress.
Immunotherapy Panel Added to Symposium
Can focused ultrasound catalyze the immune response to cancer? Alone? In combination with immunotherapy agents? To explore these questions, the Foundation’s upcoming Symposium will feature its first panel on Enhanced Immunotherapy.
Taking place in October, the Symposium will offer a multifaceted exploration of current and future applications of the technology and feature plenary sessions, panel discussions, poster presentations, and exhibits.
"We have a dedicated group of Council members with a range of experiences and perspectives that contribute to the success of our mission. We all left the meeting with a better understanding of progress being made in the field, challenges that remain and how we can help." – Council co-chairs Charlie Seilheimer and Jane Batten
Foundation’s Council Meets to Advance Mission
Jane Batten and Neal Kassell
On June 4, the Foundation’s Council convened in Charlottesville for its biannual meeting. The Council, comprised of community and business leaders from across the country, plays an integral role in our awareness and fundraising efforts. These goodwill ambassadors work closely with the Foundation's Chairman, Board of Directors, and team to share our story, promote our mission, and connect us with important stakeholders.
The group met to review the state of focused ultrasound technology, receive an update on Foundation programs, and discuss strategies for broadening support.
Council tour at the UVA Center of Excellence
The Council toured the UVA Focused Ultrasound Center, met our summer interns, and heard presentations from staff members about recent research awards, reimbursement and patient advocacy initiatives, and our communications strategy.
Hector Lopez, PhD
In Memoriam: Focused Ultrasound Research Advocate, Hector Lopez
The field of focused ultrasound lost a friend and champion with the passing of Dr. Hector Lopez earlier this week.
As Program Director in the Division of Applied Science and Technology at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), Lopez directed the extramural ultrasound research portfolio, most recently concentrating on ultrasound imaging and therapy application. He believed in the potential of focused ultrasound and was integral in securing funding for FUS research, including the work of Tyrone Porter at Boston University to improve the efficiency of image-guided focused ultrasound tumor ablation. "I personally believe that two of the three grants I received were in large part due to the dedication and support of Hector Lopez," said Porter. "He was a major proponent of biomedical ultrasound and image-guided interventions, committing his time and energy to supporting research in these areas."
Dr. Lopez was also a friend of the Foundation, traveling to Charlottesville to visit the Foundation offices and the UVA Center. He regularly attended our biennial symposia, gleaning the latest updates on translational and clinical advances in the field. We are saddened by the loss of this great ally.
"We are grateful to the Foundation for funding our study, which will enable us to determine the possibilities and limitations of MR guidance and thermometry in the flooded lung." – Thomas Lesser, MD, Director of Lung Cancer Center/Middle Germany
Foundation-Supported Study May Help Pave the Way for Lung Cancer Treatment
Although lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, using focused ultrasound (FUS) to treat these tumors has not been viable to date. The air in the lungs makes it impossible for ultrasound to penetrate the lung tissue and destroy the cancerous areas. Innovative researchers in Germany, however, are laying the groundwork for the technology to potentially treat this devastating illness by flooding the diseased lung with degassed fluid to enable FUS ablation of tissue.
The Foundation is funding a preclinical study to assess the feasibility of this lung-flooding approach in the MR environment. This research builds upon the team’s previous work demonstrating the ability to ablate lung tissue using ultrasound-guided FUS. The investigators believe MR-guidance could improve the quality of treatment by providing enhanced imaging contrast of lung tumors and enabling thermal monitoring.
Elena Rosca, PhD; James Drake, MSc; Kenneth Bader, PhD; and Pejman Ghanouni, MD had projects funded
2nd Quarter Research Awards: Four New Studies Funded
The Foundation’s External Awards Program is pleased to announce that it has funded four new projects for the 2nd quarter of 2014. The topics are varied across several indications and include:
immunomodulation and tumor ablation
pediatric brain disorders
histotripsy collaboration with FDA
treating lower back pain
Represented institutions include the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, SickKids Hospital in Toronto, the University of Cincinnati, and Stanford University School of Medicine. A complete list of previously funded projects and instructions to apply for these awards are available on our website.
Important advances in the field of FUS have been plentiful this month—so much so that we could not pick one or two to feature. Instead, we include a roundup of recently published research on these topics:
Focused ultrasound-enhanced Doxorubicin Delivery to Glioblastomas Prolongs Survival in Mouse Models
Essential Tremor Thalamotomy: Practices and Clinicoradiological Outcomes
Phase Shift Nanoemulsion Ablation of Tumors
Boiling Histotripsy in an In Vivo Setting
FUS Treatment of Primary Hyperparathyroidism
Cost-effectiveness of Uterine-Preserving Procedures
Opening the article with "It's neuroscience’s final frontier. Tiny bubbles will open the blood-brain barrier to sneak drugs into tumours – and we might treat Alzheimer's the same way," New Scientist describes Dr. Kullervo Hynynen’s Foundation-funded focused ultrasound blood-brain barrier microbubble research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto: Human brain's ultimate barrier to open for first time on www.newscientist.com and on the i09 Blog 6/18/14