Momentum Building for FUS and Cancer Immunotherapy
Participants at last week's Immunotherapy Summit
The Foundation is galvanizing the community to advance the use of focused ultrasound (FUS) as a valuable new tool for cancer immunotherapy. We have recently convened key members of the research community for a summit on Focused Ultrasound and Immunotherapy and have initiated a multi-center research consortium to study the immune effects of FUS in aggressive brain tumors.
Immunotherapy Summit We held the Focused Ultrasound and Immunotherapy Summit in partnership with the Cancer Research Institute on October 14th. More than 40 experts from around the world gathered to critically evaluate the current body of evidence, assess the value of ongoing work, and create a roadmap of projects to address any remaining gaps or questions. A primary goal of this meeting was to develop a path forward that reduces the time for a combined FUS and immunotherapy treatment to reach clinical adoption.
“The overall idea with immunotherapy for cancer is to allow your immune system to see the tumor antigen and respond to it,” said Katherine Ferrara, distinguished professor of biomedical engineering at UC Davis and speaker at the Summit. “If focused ultrasound can release tumor antigen in a controlled manner, then we can apply a local ultrasound treatment to achieve a systemic therapeutic effect.” READ MORE about the Summit >
Brain Tumor Consortium Recent preclinical research has demonstrated that immunotherapies can have beneficial effects in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – an aggressive and fatal brain tumor. The Foundation has created a multi-site consortium to streamline efforts and accelerate progress in using FUS to increase the body’s anti-tumor immune response. The first major project brings together seven research sites in North America to investigate the effects of different FUS modalities on the immune system, each using the same animal model of GBM.
“This consortium is an excellent example of the power of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the Cancer Research Institute to leverage expertise from different institutions toward a common goal,” says Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, CEO of CRI. “By setting consistent parameters across the sites, they are shaving precious time from the usual scientific process.”
After the consortium completes this work, the modality – or modalities - that produced promising results will be assessed in larger translational studies and/or in combination with specific immunotherapeutics. READ MORE about the Consortium >
FUS Immunotherapy Summit Builds on Momentum
More than 40 experts from around the world gathered for the Focused Ultrasound and Immunotherapy Summit, held in partnership with the Cancer Research Institute on October 14. The group met to critically evaluate the current body of evidence, assess the value of ongoing work, and create a roadmap of projects to address any remaining gaps or questions. After morning presentations highlighting current research, the attendees spent the afternoon discussing and outlining their vision for the future of this new and exciting field of focused ultrasound (FUS). Our ultimate goal is to reduce the time it takes for FUS and immunotherapy combination treatments to reach clinical adoption.
“Incredible progress has been made in investigating the potential of focused ultrasound to activate the immune system since we laid the groundwork for collaboration at our first workshop,” said Jessica Foley, PhD, the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer. “For this Summit, we made great strides to ensure we continue along the optimal path toward clinically relevant therapies.”
Bottom Line: The goal is accelerated clinical adoption of FUS immunotherapy
Tremor Talk about Focused Ultrasound
The September 2016 issue of the International Essential Tremor Foundation’sTremor Talk features a two-page layout on focused ultrasound. The quarterly donor magazine explains the recent FDA approval of FUS as a surgical treatment for essential tremor and explores how it works, its potential benefits and considerations, and where to go for treatment in North America.
The IETF provides information, services, and support to children and adults with ET and their families. They also educate health care providers and promote and fund research. Support their work >
Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD, joined other members of the Blue Ribbon Panel in Washington, DC to announce the report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force. In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national “Cancer Moonshot” to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer—to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years.
The report includes the Task Force’s Implementation plans with recommendations to:
Alexandra Lebenthal was the second person in New York to undergo focused ultrasound treatment for her essential tremor. Charlie Rose sat down with Alexandra and her neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Kaplitt of Weill Cornell Medicine.
"There are things that are second nature to everyone else that each time I do them for the first time or the second or third time, I am just amazed," says Alexandra of her experience after FUS. Dr. Kaplitt explains how FUS is able to relieve the tremors, and discusses how it might be used to treat other diseases like epilepsy and Alzheimer's.
Are you looking for a tenure track position or clinical fellowship? Interested in moving to an industry position? In meeting our goal to advance the field, the Foundation seeks to match scientists, engineers, clinicians and others experienced in focused ultrasound with new opportunities at leading institutions. We currently have five open positions on our website job board. If your organization is seeking new talent, make sure to post on our site!
Dr. Bullock spoke about the consortium at last week's Immunotherapy Summit
GBM affects 18,500 patients annually, with 15,000 US deaths per year. It is a highly invasive brain tumor with no clear margins, making full surgical resection nearly impossible. It has a 90% recurrence rate after surgery.
The Foundation’s multi-site consortium to streamline efforts and accelerate progress in using FUS to increase the body’s anti-tumor immune response has launched its first major project. Researchers at seven institutions will investigate the effects of different FUS modalities on the immune system, each using the same animal model of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumor.
“Focused ultrasound is such a versatile tool that it can be difficult to decide which mechanism of action to use in exciting new applications like immunotherapy,” says Kelsie Timbie, PhD, the Foundation’s Scientific Programs Manager. “The consortium project was born out of this need, and we anticipate that it will provide a solid stepping stone to clinical translation.”
The Foundation, and the research community as a whole, recognized the need to compare these modalities using consistent metrics to determine how each can harness the incredible power of the immune system in this notoriously difficult to treat cancer.
Foundation Funded Research Update – MR Thermometry
Although magnetic resonance imaging provides the thermometry that guides FUS treatment, current methods may not capture the entire treatment area and are sometimes distorted. These limitations can reduce effectiveness and potentially compromise patient safety. Will Grissom and his team at Vanderbilt have completed the final report on their project MR Temperature Imaging Toolbox for Focused Ultrasound Neurosurgery. The group has made several new software tools available to the community with brain temperature imaging sequences and processing algorithms that directly address the current shortcomings of MR thermometry at each stage of therapy. This work has led to $1.7 million in follow-on funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Kullervo Hynynen’s group at Sunnybrook Research Institute/University of Toronto has developed an alternative approach for monitoring treatments, registering CT data to the ultrasound treatment space, and correcting the sound aberrations caused by the skull. For Registration of Human Skull Computed Tomography Data to an Ultrasound Treatment Space using a Sparse High Frequency Ultrasound Hemispherical Array, see Medical Physics.
A group in Korea used FUS plus microbubbles to enhance the effects of chemotherapy, causing significantly increased cell death and slowing tumor growth in rats withpancreatic cancer. For Therapeutic Effects of Microbubbles Added to Combined High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound and Chemotherapy in a Pancreatic Cancer Xenograft Model, see the Korean Journal of Radiology.
JTU Article of the Month – A New Method for MR Thermometry
The group at the University of Utah used hybrid angular spectrum simulations to accurately predict focal spot location and to obtain accurate and high resolution temperature maps over a large field of view. MR Thermometry for Focused Ultrasound Monitoring Utilizing Model Predictive Filtering and Ultrasound Beam Modeling has now been published in The Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound.
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Taiwan-based EpiSonica has secured Taiwan Food & Drug Administration (TFDA) clearance of its ArcBlate MR-guided focused ultrasound system for soft tumor ablation of uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, and palliative pain care. ArcBlate can be used in any commercial MRI system.
The ArcBlate focused ultrasound system is designed unlike any other on the market. The transducer moves around an ARC structure that is located above the supine patient inside of the MRI scanner. This design allows “greater patient comfort, wider coverage, more flexible focusing, shorter treatment time, and a reduced risk of skin burns,” according to CEO Jimmy Chang. ArcBlate can be used inside any existing 1.5T or 3T MRI system, and it is fully automated to execute planned procedures without operator intervention.
"Recent advances have demonstrated the clear potential to…change cancer treatment paradigms." – Dr. Nicolas Borys, Celsion Chief Medical Officer
Celsion Begins Pediatric Solid Tumor Study
In collaboration with the Children’s Research Institute and NIH, Celsion will begin a Phase I study on the use of ThermoDox with FUS for treating solid tumors in children. The trial, which targets sarcomas, will include Dr. AeRang Kim at Children’s National Medical Center and Drs. Brad Wood and Rosandra Kaplan at NIH.
ThermoDox is Celsion’s heat activated liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin. FUS is used to release the chemotherapy into relapsed or refractory solid tumors. The investigator-sponsored clinical study is being partially funded by the NIH.
CarThera has received a grant of €5.7 million ($6.4m). The funding was awarded under the call for proposals ‘Structuring R&D Projects for Competitiveness’ from France’s ‘Investments for the Future Program’ led by the General Investment Commission.
The grant will finance their SonoCloud Phase 2b/3 study in glioblastoma that will involve around 200 patients at centers in Europe and the United States. It will also fund a number of exploratory studies, including one on Alzheimer’s disease, building on the findings from the Phase 1/2a study that paved the way for a broader array of clinical indications.
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