Pre-Clinical Research Validates Potential in Alzheimer's
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A pre-clinical study published this week in Science Translational Medicine suggests that focused ultrasound may provide a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia demonstrated that combining the injection of microbubbles and applying ultrasound across the brain using a system from Philips Research reduced the number and volume of amyloid plaques in mice genetically altered to model Alzheimer’s. In addition, they found that treated mice had improved memory over untreated ones.
The research generated interest around the world, with many leading news sources reporting on the study. “Our research was very exploratory, and we really didn’t expect to see such a massive effect,” study author Jürgen Götz told Reuters. “I’m really excited by this.”
This important work conducted by Götz and Gerhard Leinenga, neuroscience experts in Alzheimer’s disease, corroborates studies done at Sunnybrook Research Institute under the leadership of focused ultrasound pioneer Kullervo Hynynen. Hynynen and his colleagues were the first to publish data suggesting the benefit of focused ultrasound and microbubbles to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and reduce the plaque burden in a different Alzheimer’s model. Similarly, Foundation-funded preclinical research at Columbia University by Elisa Konofagou safely opened the BBB to treat neurodegenerative conditions—including Alzheimer’s.
Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, stated, “These two studies in separate laboratories using different models are the essential predicate for a clinical trial. Combining these data with a successful safety and efficacy study for opening the blood-brain barrier, which is beginning soon at Sunnybrook, could get us there.”
Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, will participate in a discussion about new frontiers in neuromodulation during a webinar today hosted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research at noon Eastern US time. Dr. Kassell will discuss the potential role of focused ultrasound to treat Parkinson’s. Panelists will take questions during the live event, which will be archived.
Neal Kassell Presents the Foundation's Collaboration Model at Israel BrainTech 2015
Joining global thought leaders and directors of major brain initiatives, Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, presented the Foundation’s collaborative research model at Israel BrainTech this month in Tel Aviv.
Conference attendees in the French Alps, overlooking Mont Blanc
Winter School on Therapeutic Ultrasound
Focused ultrasound leaders and researchers traveled to the mountains of France March 8-13 to pass on their knowledge to students in the field. The group of 20 teachers and 50 students came from around the world to discuss topics ranging from the basic biophysics of ultrasound and imaging to tumor biology and immunology to various clinical applications.
21st Century Cures Legislation: Accelerating the Rate of Cures
Last May, members of the US House of Representatives announced the 21st Century Cures initiative to keep America at the forefront of medical innovation. The initiative has been studying medical regulation from discovery in basic science to drug and device development through to treatment delivery and identifying the resources and the potential changes needed to reduce barriers to progress. The Foundation is closely following these efforts, which are well-aligned with our mission to bring technology advances more quickly to patients.
Kullervo Hynynen, PhD (far right) with Foundation scientists
"We have created a hub of collaboration... directed toward expanding ways to apply this platform technology to medical challenges." – Kullervo Hynynen, PhD
Sunnybrook Research Institute: Progress from Laboratory to Clinic
In just a few years, the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto has grown into a translational research powerhouse, helping to advance the field of focused ultrasound in both the laboratory and the clinic. The group is headed by pioneering physicist Kullervo Hynynen, PhD, who has been conducting research in the field for more than 30 years, has over 300 publications, and was instrumental in the development of the first clinical system for MR-guided focused ultrasound.
Dr. Hynynen visited the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in March to meet with our scientific team, explore collaborations on brain research, and share the latest projects emanating from his laboratory, situated within the Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics.
One project was selected for a Foundation research award in the first quarter of 2015. Principal Investigator Cyril Lafon, PhD, Director of Research at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), and his team will study trans-esophageal cardiac ablation using focused ultrasound.
“MR Directed Focal Hyperthermia for Pelvic Disease” by Chris J. Diederich, PhD, et al., UCSF
Foundation Research Award Update
Along with primary investigators Drs. Vasant Salgaonkar, Eugene Ozhinsky, and Viola Rieke (Radiation Oncology and Radiology), Dr. Diederich and the team from UCSF implemented sonication and feedback control strategies for targeted prostate hyperthermia with InSightec’s ExAblate 2100 endocavity focused ultrasound system.
The team devised specific beamforming, sonication, and control strategies to overcome the current software limitations of the system, with the goal of delivering long duration (15 to 30 minutes) and diffusely large continuous volumes of hyperthermia in prostate quadrants or hemi-gland targets.
Consensus on Use of Focused Ultrasound for Painful Bone Metastases
Published online in February, this comprehensive review article written by international focused ultrasound experts critically assesses available data and provides consensus statements on current treatment goals, current indications, technical considerations, future directions/research priorities, and economic and logistical considerations on the use of focused ultrasound as a treatment for painful bone metastases. The article also provides guidance for broader application in oncology.
Vladimir Turkevich, MD
In Memoriam: Vladimir Turkevich
It is with great sadness that we learned of the death on January 31st of Vladimir Turkevich, MD. A senior researcher and radiation oncologist at the Petrov Research Institute of Oncology in St. Petersburg for almost 30 years, Dr. Turkevich was a part of the first group of researchers to use focused ultrasound to treat bone metastases. He also served as the bone mets session moderator at our 2012 Symposium. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
Leading the list of exciting new publications is Drs. Yongan Chung and Seung-Schik Yoo’s successful use of focused ultrasound-induced neuromodulation in a human subject. Additional highlighted work includes a technical study on the development of a new approach to possibly treat pancreatic cancer, a collaborative and comprehensive review of histotripsy indications, and a review from China of 5,000 patients in eight different indications.
JTU Article of the Month - Volume Reduction of Enlarged Thyroid Nodules
A study to determine the safety, efficacy, and parameters for focused ultrasound shrinkage of enlarged thyroid nodules is in the March issue of The Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound. The German group who conducted the study speculates that a single treatment session could be a viable alternative to standard methods.
"At least 16 ultrasound companies call the region home."
Puget Sound Business Journal Highlights the Regional Development of FUS
A feature article entitled “Region’s Ultrasound Companies Create Advanced New Therapies” was recently published in the Puget Sound Business Journal. The story mentions the focused ultrasound work at the University of Washington and Swedish Neuroscience Institute. "It's potentially as revolutionary and game changing and disruptive to therapeutics as MRI was to diagnostics…and more than 60 other possible applications are in various stages of research and development," said Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD.
Kyle Morrison Named President of Sonic Concepts
Kyle Morrison has been promoted to President of Sonic Concepts. The ultrasound engineering and manufacturing company also promoted Theresa Forseth to Director of Operations. As part of his retirement exit strategy, co-founder George Keilman will continue to lead the technical innovations group. To learn more, see our January 2015 story and company profile.