In images and words, this newsletter features many highlights of the 2nd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound. As you'll quickly see, this highly-successful meeting served as an energizing touchstone for the worldwide focused ultrasound community.
By covering the past, present and future of our rapidly expanding field, symposium presentations offered a panoramic perspective of its progression and priorities. Overall, the symposium's tone was optimistic and expansive. Speakers reported important new developments in areas ranging from blood-brain barrier disruption and stem cell activation to new possibilities for treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), stroke and facet joint pain.
As indicated in numerous presentations, many areas of research and development are approaching tipping points where slow advancement will give way to rapid progression. The next wave of clinical trials is now queuing up and will include applications in targeted drug delivery, in the brain and prostate, and in metastatic bone tumors.
One of the most exciting aspects of this year's meeting was the presence of a new generation of scientists, all ready to make their mark on the field of MR-guided focused ultrasound. Their ranks included the Foundation's 2010 Young Investigators, ten early career scientists who you will read about below.
Also exciting, from the Foundation's perspective, was the number of inquiries received by our Research Awards and Fellowship Programs during the symposium. According to Hannah Edelen, who directs both programs, the level of interest and enthusiasm has never been higher. For the focused ultrasound community, this is yet another indicator that a phase of explosive growth is imminent.
2010 symposium previews next wave of applications
"The symposium provided an excellent view of the priorities of the MR-guided focused ultrasound community. It also previewed the next wave of approved treatments, notably in targeted drug delivery, in the brain and prostate, and in metastatic bone tumors." - Neal Kassell, M.D., Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation Chairman
The world's only scientific meeting devoted to MR-guided focused ultrasound received high marks from the 320 clinicians, scientists and engineers from academia, industry and government in attendance.
"Essentially every major figure in the worldwide MR-guided focused ultrasound community was here. They traveled from 22 countries and generated a level of passion and enthusiasm that was palpable and contagious," said Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, M.D.
Although this year's two-and-a-half-day conference lasted no longer than the ground-breaking first international symposium in 2008, it included more than three times as many presentations: 131 compared to the 40 given two years ago. As Kassell noted, "The expanded content of the symposium clearly signifies the explosive growth underway in this field."
Nearly 40% of the presentations reported on human clinical trials, 31% on preclinical research and 30% on technological developments. The applications most noted in presentations were: uterine fibroids, targeted drug delivery, brain applications, prostate applications and bone tumors.
"When considered by category, symposium presentations provided an excellent view of the priorities of the MR-guided focused ultrasound community," noted Kassell. "While much work is still being done to ascertain the long-term effectiveness of uterine fibroid treatments - the first internationally approved application for this technology - the groundwork is being laid for the next wave of approved treatments, notably in targeted drug delivery, in the brain and prostate, and in metastatic bone tumors."
Preliminary post-symposium survey results show most participants thought the symposium was objective, scientifically based and free of commercial bias. In terms of informational value, the top-rated sessions were prostate applications, focused ultrasound technology and bio-effects, and - tied for third place - brain, breast and liver applications.
The Foundation has received a highly favorable response from many symposium attendees. As Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, M.D., observed, "The overwhelmingly positive feedback not only validates our role as a catalyst in the development and adoption of a game changing technology, but also demonstrates the tremendous impact being achieved on behalf of our donors."
Here's a sampling of feedback received:
"It was the best meeting ever organized in this subject, and it was a great success." - Ferenc A. Jolesz, M.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
"[The Foundation] succeeded to establish a global community - I would even define it by now as a society - that is deeply involved in the translation of MRgFUS from the lab to the patient bedside. The quality of the talks has gone through a quantum step between the first meeting and this meeting, and it was very evident that by now a research network exists and is expanding." - Kobi Vortman, CEO, InSightec
"This is one of the most amazing meetings I've ever attended. From the science perspective, this is very energetic, very high quality because it's truly interdisciplinary," said Christopher Cheng of Singapore General Hospital. "There are a lot of networks being set up... You can hear accents from France, Europe, North America, Asia and people bringing the diversities of their cultural and different backgrounds to the meeting. This is a prime example of how it should be done." View video interview.
According to Lawrence Crum, Ph.D. of the University of Washington, the symposium offered a "tremendous array of professional, clinicians in a technology that's going to change the way we do medicine in the United States." View video interview.
Thilo Hoelscher, M.D. of the University of California, San Diego noted, "Meetings like this are the meetings we need to change ideas and discuss with colleagues how we should approach different applications." View video interview.
"The Foundation did a great job in putting this meeting together," said Joo-Ha Hwang, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Washington.
"It was a great pleasure to meet everyone again at the symposium, which I thought went extremely well and clearly showed how much the field had moved forward since the previous symposium." - Professor Wladyslaw Gedroyc, Imperial College, London.
The 2nd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound ran for less than three days - from the opening reception on Sunday, October 17 to closing comments on Wednesday, October 20. But in that time, the meeting gave participants ample opportunity to present their work, share information, exchange ideas and form new collaborations. Collectively, they defined and advanced the state of the art of one today's most exciting and innovative medical frontiers.
The Foundation's inaugural group of Young Investigator Award recipients showcased their research during symposium general sessions and the well-attended poster session and reception on Tuesday, October 19.
"The participation of so many young investigators, including our award recipients, in the symposium bodes well for the future of MR-guided focused ultrasound," observed Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, M.D. "It is exciting to learn about the work being performed by this new generation of scientists. They bring the vitality, vision and sense of possibility that will fulfill the promise of this game-changing technology."
"The poster session in particular had really good attendance and a lot of interest from participants, which really helps people early in their career like myself," noted Allison Payne, Ph.D., a Young Investigator Award recipient from the University of Utah. View video interview.
More kudos for Young Investigators:
"The presence of young academicians may be the best sign of progress and a very optimistic future for MRgFUS. Without the Foundation's support, this kind of rapid progress cannot be achieved." - Ferenc A. Jolesz, M.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
"I was specifically happy to see the younger generation (of the academic world) starting to take the lead and becoming competitive. As you correctly stated, nothing is better than competition to foster advancement." - Kobi Vortman, CEO, InSightec
Suzanne LeBlang, M.D. of University MRI in Boca Raton, FL commented, "It's amazing to see how the field has grown and how many young investigators are now getting interested in MR-guided focused ultrasound to bring it to the next level." View video interview.
Symposium abstract book, discussion group notes available online
The Foundation's website has posted the Program and Abstract Book for the 2nd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound. Also posted are the notes from the lunchtime discussion groups that addressed micro-FUS, brain and prostate applications, and reimbursement.
Collaborative Research Network will post additional post-symposium resources The abstract book and lunchtime discussion notes are also posted on the Foundation's Collaborative Research Network (CRN). In coming weeks, the CRN will also post audio/slide modules of many symposium oral presentations as well as special topic videos taped during the conference.
Participation in the CRN is open to members of the scientific, academic and medical communities engaged in preclinical, clinical and translational research of focused ultrasound applications.
CBS News visits symposium, spotlights FUS fibroid treatments
A news team from WUSA, the Washington, D.C. affiliate of CBS television, visited the 2nd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound to learn more about noninvasive uterine fibroid treatments. They spoke with Aradhana Venkatesan, M.D., a radiologist leading clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Falko Busse of Philips Healthcare.
As Venkatesan noted, the NIH recently completed an early phase safety and feasibility study of the Philips' MR-guided focused ultrasound system. It expects to open another trial in early 2011. Patients interested in participating can contact the Recruitment and Public Liaison Office of the NIH Clinical Center.
Foundation welcomes new Director of Advancement, Kimberly Skelly
Kimberly Skelly will join the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation on November 15 as Director of Advancement, overseeing all fundraising activities.
During the past four years, Skelly served as Vice President for Development for the Montpelier Foundation, which operates the historic home of James Madison in Orange, Virginia. She was lead fundraiser during the final stages of Montpelier's recent $60 million capital campaign.
A highly skilled development professional, Skelly previously held fundraising positions at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business and at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.
"Kimberly is the latest A-list player to join our all-star team," says Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, M.D. "She is an excellent fit for our high-performance entrepreneurial style."
"Kimberly brings to us an outstanding 15-year track record of fundraising, " Kassell adds. "But she's also a multifaceted individual who will contribute to a number of our programs. I look forward to introducing her to the Foundation's many friends and donors."
Foundation job posting: Medical / Scientific Director
The Foundation is seeking a Medical/Scientific Director to oversee its preclinical and clinical research activities. To qualify, candidates must have attained a M.D., Ph.D., or a master's degree in Biomedical Engineering, Medical Physics or a related scientific field.
MR-guided FUS activities planned for 2010 RSNA meeting
This year's meeting of the Radiologic Society of North America will be held from November 28 to December 3 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Several events related to MR-guided focused ultrasound are planned during the meeting, including:
Networking activities The Foundation's Collaborative Research Network Director, Heather Huff Simonin, is compiling a list of researchers and clinicians actively engaged in MR-guided focused ultrasound who will be attending the RSNA conference. The Foundation hopes to facilitate collaboration and networking activities during the event. Please contact Heather for further details.
Hot Topic sessions
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound: Myth or Reality? (Monday, November 29, 7:15-8:15 a.m.)
Image-guided Drug Delivery (Tuesday, November 30, 7:15-8:15 a.m.)
NIH, AHRQ sponsoring comparative effectiveness research conference
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) are co-sponsoring a free conference on Methodological Challenges in Comparative Effectiveness Research.
"Comparative effectiveness research (CER) is increasingly important to the advancement of MR-guided focused ultrasound," says Joy Polefrone, Ph.D., director of the Foundation's FUS-Targeted Drug Delivery initiative. CER compares existing treatment options to determine which is most effective in different types of patients and circumstances.
"Treatments for uterine fibroids - the first FDA-approved indication for MR-guided focused ultrasound - are already being addressed by an AHRQ stakeholder group. The group has developed protocol recommendations to address concerns about these treatments," Polefrone notes. "Future applications of MR-guided focused ultrasound will undergo CER assessment in the U.S., making it important to understand this process and its impact on clinical use."
Scheduled for December 2-3, the conference will be held at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It will address a variety of important questions about comparative effectiveness research that face U.S. researchers, care providers, health systems, and patients. In particular, the conference will explore a number of case studies challenging the kinds of research, methods and analyses that should be used to address limitations in current evidence for interventions and tests being examined by decision-making bodies.
The Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) announced that InSightec was among the manufacturers introducing new equipment at its 2010 meeting in Valencia, Spain from October 2-6.
InSightec debuted the ExAblate One, a new version of its MR-guided focused ultrasound system for treating uterine fibroids and adenomyosis and for use in women's health research. The company also launched its ExAblate operating room (OR) platform for multiple research and commercial options, including the treatment of uterine fibroids in the U.S. and Europe and for the treatment of adenomyosis and painful bone metastases in Europe. The platform will be available for use in ongoing research programs including prostate cancer, pain management and women's health.
Philips Healthcare will display its Sonalleve MR-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound uterine fibroid therapy system at the RSNA from November 28 to December 2 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The Sonalleve integrates an advanced HIFU system into the patient table of the Philips Achieva MR system. The system's capabilities include MRI advanced planning, guidance, and temperature monitoring.
Sonalleve is undergoing clinical trials in the U.S. and is available in many countries outside of the U.S.