The Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the Cancer Research Institute are establishing a partnership with the goal of advancing the development of new focused ultrasound (FUS) and cancer immunotherapy treatments. Both organizations recognize that the intersection of the latest developments in FUS therapy and cancer immunotherapy offers a highly promising opportunity for combination approaches to treat a variety of cancers.
Each year, the Foundation produces a report outlining the state of focused ultrasound around the world. Read the 2017 State of the Field Report to learn about the increasing number of research sites and regulatory approvals, the dramatic upswing in first-in-human treatments, two indications dominating patient treatments worldwide, and the booming regulatory landscape. New this year, the report presents a longitudinal view of how the field has grown over time.
Pancreatic cancer affects 350,000 patients per year, and focused ultrasound – used alone and in combination with other therapies – is being investigated to treat the actual cancer, as well as the pain associated with it. Dr. Joo Ha Hwang, Associate Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology) at the University of Washington, recently visited the Foundation to discuss gaps in current therapies and the role focused ultrasound could play in treating this disease.
Artist and writer Peter Skinner recently donated the proceeds from his painting exhibit at Les Yeux du Monde gallery in Charlottesville to the Foundation. Skinner said, “I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on these paintings – in some cases 5 to 10 years. It's rewarding to contribute to the mission of the Foundation with your heart.”
A contingent from the Foundation recently traveled to Nanjing, China, for the 17th International Symposium for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU). In addition to attending the academic sessions, the team met with focused ultrasound manufacturers and networked with research colleagues. After the symposium, Foundation chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, was joined by development officer Jessica Lukens in Hong Kong and Taiwan to form new relationships with investors, government leaders, and philanthropists. While in Taiwan, they visited the headquarters of NaviFUS, a manufacturer, and toured Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.
The Foundation has established an annual $75,000 cash award that will be given to an investigator who demonstrates outstanding potential to contribute to advancing cancer treatment using focused ultrasound. The Andrew J. Lockhart Memorial Prize was established and funded by Andrew’s family and friends, with the hope that research can contribute to new therapies for solid cancers.
Two proposals have been selected to receive Foundation funding in the 2nd quarter of 2017. James Keenan, CEO of Artenga, Inc., a Canadian life sciences company, will partner with Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Helsinki to investigate gene therapy in Parkinson’s disease. In Germany, Frank Wolfram, PhD, and his team at SRH Waldklinikum Gera have been funded to research treating lung cancer.
The Foundation strives to cultivate the next generation of researchers and scientists working in the field of focused ultrasound. We are proud to announce that four such young researchers, including former intern Guillaume Maimbourg and Foundation funded researcher Amirah Aly, have earned awards for their work. Meanwhile, another former Foundation intern, Changzhu Jin, has earned his PhD.
A collaboration between scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology, Philips Research Eindhoven, and University Hospital of Cologne has revealed new data for using combination focused ultrasound treatments in a rhabdomyosarcoma rat tumor model. Recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), the group compared various treatment protocols to determine the best therapeutic efficacy. The most promising results came from first using focused ultrasound hyperthermia to trigger delivery of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin via temperature-sensitive liposomes followed by focused ultrasound tumor ablation. READ MORE >
Due to promising initial results, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have extended their study using focused ultrasound to deliver anti-amyloid antibodies to the brains of older mice with Alzheimer’s disease. Cynthia A. Lemere, PhD, Nathan McDannold, PhD, and Qiaoqiao Shi, PhD, tested behavior, learning, memory, plaque burden, and safety for treatments given alone or in combination. To confirm their findings and increase statistical power, the team has received approval to add more mice to the study, now extended through November 2017. Will these data help determine the best timing and the most effective protocol for some day treating patients?
“Special Delivery” could be the theme for this month’s research highlights. Whether it is gene therapy or antibodies, brain disorders or bone growth, magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound guidance, biomedical researchers are finding focused ultrasound to be the tool that enables therapeutic molecules to reach diseased cells like never before. The studies cover Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and nonunion bone fractures.
Volumetric thermometry, or temperature monitoring, for transcranial focused ultrasound procedures requires accelerated imaging, but current methods don’t account for signal variations caused by the device’s water bath. To address this concern, scientists across multiple institutions collaborated to apply separate reconstructions for the images in the brain and the water bath to enable better temperature estimation. Will the new technique provide more accurate temperature readings?
Two Seattle-based companies, Verasonics, a leader in research ultrasound, and Sonic Concepts, Inc., an innovator of high-performance transducers, have collaborated to design and build a new ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound platform to advance biomedical research. The platform, called HIFUPlex, combines Verasonics’ Vantage systems with Sonic Concepts’ transducers and promises premium quality, innovation, and versatility.
Cyprus-based Medsonic has opened a product line: MR-compatible, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) transducers. The new transducers include a polished ABS enclosure and an MR-compatible matching network. Founded in 2004, Medsonic also produces pre-clinical MR-compatible robots for MR-guided focused ultrasound.
In a June 7 press release, HistoSonics announced that they presented new pre-clinical data at the 2017 World Conference on Interventional Oncology (WCIO) held in Boston, MA. The four presentations on liver tumor ablation support the development of the company’s robotically assisted sonic therapy (RAST) for that indication. HistoSonics has also hired executives in the roles of Vice President of Clinical, Quality and Regulatory and Vice President of Global Strategic Development.