Investigating FUS to deliver nanoparticles into the brain
Biomedical engineers at the University of Virginia (UVA) and John Hopkins University (JHU) have developed a prolific collaboration that has generated several long-term, multi-million-dollar focused ultrasound research grants.
Richard Price, PhD, Research Director of the UVA Focused Ultrasound Center, and Justin Hanes, PhD, Director of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute and JHU School of Medicine, are developing nanoparticles and delivering them deep into the brain with the assistance of focused ultrasound. Their work has earned them nearly $7 million of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding from 2011 to 2020 to propel their discoveries to the clinic.
In their UVA biomedical engineering laboratory, Price and his team are using focused ultrasound to allow the targeted and controlled delivery of nanoparticles deep into the brain. Justin Hanes and his team at JHU are creating the nanoparticles that Price is delivering. These nanoparticles are essentially encapsulated—or coated—molecules, such as chemotherapy drugs or protein-coding nucleic acids.
"With focused ultrasound technology, virtually anything in the central nervous system that was unreachable before is now possible to access for targeted drug and gene delivery." – Richard Price
"This is the perfect melding of two technologies,” said Dr. Hanes. “We are working to deliver powerful, therapeutics non-invasively to targeted diseased areas of the brain. Our goal is to achieve important biological effects while minimizing side effects.”
“We are proud to have supported some of the early validating work,” said the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD. “Their collaboration is a perfect model for the synergistic potential of focused ultrasound across disciplines and institutions. With these new grants, they will have the resources to quickly translate their research into benefits for patients.”
Neurosurgical Pioneer Named Honorary Symposium President
A neurosurgeon and pioneer in using focused ultrasound for psychological disorders, Jin-woo Chang, MD, PhD, will serve as the Honorary President of the 5th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, to be held August 28-September 1, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland.
“I am looking forward to not only sharing new data in using focused ultrasound to treat the brain, but also a range of cancers and other diseases,” said Dr. Chang. “As more mechanisms are pursued and understood, the field is growing well beyond ablation to some exciting frontiers of medicine, including immunotherapy and breaking through the blood-brain barrier. The Symposium is a valuable forum for all members of the community to stay current on developments and share ideas.”
Dr. Richard Merkin has generously offered to continue his support of this unique mid-career fellowship opportunity for international researchers. The Merkin Fellowship brings scientists from around the world to work with the technical and scientific team at the Foundation on specific research projects. The position fosters collaboration between the Foundation, the Fellow's home institution, and other institutions and carries the potential for an associated academic appointment. Applications for 2016 and 2017 are being accepted. For information, contact Matt Eames, PhD, Director of Extramural Research.
Foundation Scientists Build Collaboration in Korea
A team of Foundation researchers recently returned from a productive trip to Korea, where they made presentations and expanded our collaborative network. John Snell, PhD, Brain Program Technical Director and current and past Foundation fellows Dong-guk Paeng, PhD, and Jean-Francois Aubry, PhD spent a week speaking at two universities and two conferences. Dr. Paeng shared his country, national cuisine, and culture with the others.
The Foundation’s website now features a timeline presenting the in-depth history of focused ultrasound. The scrolling line spans from the late 1800’s to present day and features prominent milestones along with photographs of the pioneers who have developed the technology. It will be updated as new achievements are made.
Foundation Featured as Virginia Business Cover Story
The Foundation was selected as a leading philanthropy and featured on the cover of the annual “Generous Virginians” issue of Virginia Business magazine. The story is raising awareness of the need for philanthropic giving to support medical innovation and how our Foundation is helping to advance focused ultrasound to improve the lives of Virginians and others with serious diseases around the world.
"I can’t believe that invasive surgery is still the sole option for treating benign tumors. We need alternatives, and focused ultrasound could prove to be the best alternative."
Foundation Research Award Update: Safely Opening the BBB for Drug Delivery
Foundation-funded research has enabled Elisa Konofagou, PhD, and her colleagues at Columbia University to establish safety parameters for using focused ultrasound to temporarily open the blood brain barrier (BBB) and effectively deliver drugs to previously unreachable brain tissue. These findings may lead to new treatment options for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Children’s National Health System is the first site in the US to use focused ultrasound to treat osteoid osteoma, a benign but painful bone tumor that commonly occurs in children and young adults. The team successfully relieved pain in two patients, 16 and 10 years old, as part of a clinical trial. This study is running parallel to a similar study conducted at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where their first patient was treated last August.
"If successful, treatment of spinal disc degeneration has the potential to have a very significant impact on society." – Reviewer
2nd Quarter Research Award
A preclinical study entitled “Low Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound (LIPUS) for the Treatment of Spinal Disc Degeneration” has been funded for the 2nd quarter of 2015. Chris Diederich, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco will determine whether LIPUS could be used in the treatment of low back pain caused by intervertebral disc degeneration. The LIPUS study will test the potential of a focused ultrasound system to deliver a therapeutic dose of energy that is adequate to increase cellularity, reduce inflammation, and improve remodeling in acute or degenerative disc-related back injuries.
Are you looking for funding for a research project in the field of focused ultrasound? Learn about our External Awards Program.
"The Foundation sponsors AAPM to support the presence of therapeutic ultrasound sessions at principal meetings." – Matt Eames, PhD, Director of Extramural Research
Ultrasound Therapy & Imaging Track at AAPM 2015
This year's American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Meeting, to be held July 12-16 in Anaheim, CA, will feature a special 3-day biennial track on Ultrasound Therapy and Imaging. Covered topics will include recent advances in ultrasound for diagnostic imaging, ultrasound for guidance and control of radiation therapy, and therapeutic/focused ultrasound. The program is led by Chris Diederich and Mark Holland.
Could a uterine fibroid numerical rating scale assist physicians with focused ultrasound patient selection? Is CT always needed when using focused ultrasound to treat the brain? Read these papers, along with two that review focused ultrasound treatment for glaucoma.
Long-time Symposium attendees and exhibitors Promedica Bioelectronics have recently released a benchtop focused ultrasound device for cellular and in vivo tissue research. The all-in-one “Sonowell” system is designed for conducting sonoporation experiments, applying controlled damage to the extracellular matrix of microbial organisms, stimulating cell growth, and regenerating in-vitro tissue.