As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are pleased to announce a ground-breaking clinical trial for women with stage IV metastatic breast cancer is now enrolling patients at the University of Virginia. The pilot study combines two therapies: focused ultrasound and a cancer immunotherapy drug. Patients will receive non-invasive focused ultrasound therapy using Theraclion’s EchoPulse system to ablate (or destroy) part of the primary breast tumor or metastatic tumors along with administration of the Merck medication pembrolizumab (Keytruda®).
An important part of the Foundation's mission includes identifying, educating, and mentoring future focused ultrasound clinicians and scientists. With this goal in mind, several years ago we launched our International Research Fellowship Program. Today this program includes internship and fellowship opportunities for the best minds in the field, both in the US and abroad.
In 2014, Dr. Richard Merkin established a fellowship opportunity for international researchers that has brought scientists from around the world to work with the technical and scientific teams at the Foundation. We interviewed Dr. Merkin about his involvement with the Foundation and his passion for focused ultrasound technology.
Foundation Board of Directors member and New York Times best-selling author John Grisham recently wrote The Tumor, a free, downloadable book about focused ultrasound. Help us reach people with what John has called “the most important book I’ve ever written.”
Three valuable staff members have recently joined the Foundation team. Janet Adams is the newest member of the finance team, serving as staff accountant. After ten years away, Laura Breeden has returned in the capacity of information development specialist. Finally, John Burns came aboard as a new IT associate.
The Foundation is pleased to announce recent updates to our website. We added reports from the third quarter of 2017 to the newly created Market Reports page, and over the summer, we launched a blog, which can also be found on Medium.
Stay tuned for more, as we are always working to improve and update our site.
John Pizzi was an active, athletic boy excelling in both soccer and baseball when, at age 11, his mother says he started experiencing severe, persistent pain in one of his legs. Scans showed that John had a rare, benign tumor called an osteoid osteoma, so the family decided to take part in a focused ultrasound clinical trial at the University of California, San Francisco.
As the lead clinician at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine who is performing focused ultrasound treatments, Matthew Bucknor, MD, has used the technology to perform more than 30 procedures on 20 patients. Combining his focused ultrasound expertise with his sub-specialization in musculoskeletal radiology, he has recently initiated a new clinical trial comparing focused ultrasound to CT-guided radiofrequency ablation for treatment of specific bone tumors.
Richard Price, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Radiology, and Radiation Oncology at the University of Virginia is the inaugural winner of the Lockhart Prize, awarded for outstanding contributions to the advancement of cancer treatment using focused ultrasound and demonstrating great potential for further achievements in the field.
Can focused ultrasound be used as a tool to allow therapeutic agents to reach deadly brain tumors? Is it possible to stop the progression and spread of breast cancer? If Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed early, could its effect on the brain be reversed? We recently sat down with Dr. Richard Price whose team is tackling these questions and more.
A new focused ultrasound company, FUSMobile, has opened enrollment for its first clinical study in Canada. The single-arm clinical trial will assess safety, efficacy, and initial feasibility for the treatment of facet-related low back pain for adult patients diagnosed with chronic lumbar facetogenic pain.
The Foundation has compiled an online library of focused ultrasound research papers. This library is available on Mendeley, a free online reference manager and academic social network. (Please register and join the group to view the resources.) We will update the collection monthly, so be sure to check back periodically.
The 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology was held September 24-27 in San Diego. With a theme of “The Healing Art and Science of Radiation Oncology,” the sessions included four abstract presentations on focused ultrasound in oncology, addressing prostate cancer and cancer immunotherapy. “It is exciting to see focused ultrasound gaining recognition amongst radiation oncologists,” said Kelsie Timbie, PhD, the Foundation’s Scientific Programs Manager.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS) is a forum for researchers to present results and learn about recent advances in ultrasonics. More than 1,000 scientists and engineers attend each year. Although the symposium addresses the larger field of ultrasonics, there was a special track at their September meeting dedicated to advancements in focused ultrasound technology. Notable invited lectures included High Intensity Therapeutic Ultrasound in the Brain presented by Jeff Elias from the University of Virginia, and Breaching the Blood-Brain Barrier Noninvasively presented by Kullervo Hynynen of the University of Toronto.
More than 100 attendees participated in the 3rd Annual Conference of the Korean Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound in September. Former Merkin Scholar Dong-guk Paeng, PhD, and former intern Changzhu Jin, PhD represented the Foundation at the meeting, where lectures centered on physics and clinical applications of focused ultrasound. This conference marked the first time Korean and Japanese researchers met to discuss collaboration among Asian societies for therapeutic ultrasound.
For patients with cardiac arrhythmias, focused ultrasound energy via thermal ablation may have the potential to block the abnormal electrical impulses, thus restoring normal cardiac rhythms and providing alternative management for chronic atrial fibrillation and similar conditions. A Foundation-funded research study on this topic was completed at LabTAU – a Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence and a part of INSERM (the French equivalent of the National Institutes of Health). Cyril Lafon, PhD, and his team designed and tested transesophageal probes to apply minimally invasive thermal ablation to cardiac tissue.
Liver and pancreatic cancers are among the most difficult diseases to treat. Physicians are studying the use of focused ultrasound in combination with other therapies to reduce tumor growth, improve survival, and improve immunotherapy results in these areas. With new ideas emerging in personalized cancer treatment, what are the latest developments in the use of focused ultrasound in treating these devastating tumors? Also, in patients who have undergone limb amputation, improved clinical results may be the result of using focused ultrasound to locate the source of chronic nerve pain.
Current and Emerging Brain Applications of MR-guided Focused Ultrasound Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, and researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Sunnybrook Research Institute, and the University of Toronto discuss the use of both high- and low-frequency focused ultrasound in brain applications. There are more than 25 focused ultrasound clinical trials currently registered for patients with neurological disorders. The comprehensive review describes the dramatic advances that have occurred over the past decade and identifies future directions and challenges in the field.
French company Theraclion is investigating the safety, efficacy and feasibility of using its focused ultrasound device – Echopulse – to treat varicose veins non-invasively. Led by Dr. Alfred Obermayer in Austria, the trial has shown promising preliminary results. Theraclion also announced they will be raising capital to help fund the study; expand into Germany, Hong Kong, and China; and advance trials in breast fibroademona and breast cancer.