An exceptionally generous, anonymous donor has made a pledge of $10 million of unrestricted funds to be matched 1-for-1 by 2022.
This pledge comes at a pivotal time for the Foundation and the focused ultrasound field, as research and access are expanding at a rapid rate. The Foundation's annual budget is approximately $10 million for each of the next three years, and this transformative gift will help to accelerate the development and adoption of focused ultrasound.
Ellie Block, generous donor and Council Member, recently spoke with the Foundation about her interest in focused ultrasound, her involvement with the Foundation, and her commitment to pediatric initiatives.
In this latest installment of the Foundation blog, Chief Scientific Officer Jessica Foley, PhD, explores the role of collaboration in leading continued innovation in the biomedical community, and specifically the field of focused ultrasound.
The blog post includes a deeper look at essential tremor treatment as an example of the benefits of collaboration.
Murat Karabiyikoglu, MD, MBA – a former life-science investment professional with the credentials of a former clinically active neurosurgeon – has joined the Foundation as a research fellow on a J-1 Research Visa, where he will participate as a member of the Foundation’s Brain Technical Research Team as well as conduct independent research projects to help make the case for commercial adoption of the technology.
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Stanford University are currently enrolling participants in a comparative trial of osteoid osteoma in pediatric patients. This study will compare CT-guided radiofrequency ablation (CTgRFA) with high-intensity focused ultrasound, comparing pain reduction between the two treatments along with procedural experience and quality of life during recovery.
Matthew Bucknor, MD, from the UCSF School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, is the principal investigator for this study, which is funded by the Foundation on the strength of generous donations made by The Block Family Foundation.
Researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto have begun a clinical trial to evaluate the feasibility and safety of focused ultrasound to alleviate symptoms in patients with refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). To date, three of six patients have been treated.
Nir Lipsman, MD, is the principal investigator of the Sunnybrook study.
Karun Sharma, MD, PhD, Director of Interventional Radiology, and colleagues at Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC, have completed their clinical trial to treat benign but painful bone tumors (osteoid osteoma) in children. They have published the results, which demonstrated safety and efficacy for focused ultrasound, and then compared the results to a historical control group of children treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in The Journal of Pediatrics. Children’s National was the first children’s hospital in the US to conduct a clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat pediatric osteoid osteoma with the Philips V2 Sonalleve system.
The Foundation is pleased to announce that five new research projects have been selected for funding in the third quarter of 2017. The scientific topics include experiments designed to test a variety of focused ultrasound mechanisms. The preclinical awards cover applications ranging from temporal lobe epilepsy to chronic wound healing to drug delivery for pancreatic cancer and bladder disorders. One research team will combine two mechanisms as they examine a potential role for shock wave histotripsy in improving thermal ablation.
With the goal of expanding treatment in the brain to reach tumors and other lesions, researchers at the University of Michigan recently completed a Foundation-funded preclinical laboratory study using focused ultrasound histotripsy (mechanical fractionation) to establish technical parameters and test feasibility and safety. “Transcranial Histotripsy for Treatment of Brain Tumors” was led by Charles Cain, PhD, and Zhen Xu, PhD, in collaboration with Dong-guk Paeng, PhD, a Foundation Merkin Fellow, and other members of the Foundation’s brain team.
After initial studies identified treatment protocols, the research team used ultrasound-guided histotripsy to create both large lesions and gyrus-confined lesions at different applied dosages. They then assessed the tissue for complications such as hemorrhage or swelling using clinical evaluation, MRI, and histology at two periods of time (less than six hours and up to 72 hours) after treatment. The lesions had sharp boundaries, no major hemorrhage, minimal to no edema, and no evidence of inflammatory changes in the affected area.
“Histotripsy is a promising new technique in the field of focused ultrasound for extending the reach of possible treatment within the brain,” said John Snell, PhD, technical director of the Foundation’s Brain Program. “The information gleaned from this study will be used to build a next-generation device for continued preclinical testing.”
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is currently exploring opportunities to better support our community of preclinical researchers. Our goal is to gather information that will help us create Foundation programming to increase the efficiency of preclinical research – e.g., educational webinars, how-to manuals, suggestions for research equipment and product modifications, etc. If you are part of the preclinical research community, we would appreciate your feedback about your experiences using focused ultrasound equipment. Please take five minutes complete this survey.
On September 8, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) hosted a workshop in Washington, DC, on improving methods to traverse the blood-brain barrier. Dr. Husseini Manji and Dr. Danica Stanimirovic chaired the planning committee, as more than 100 researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, and government representatives gathered for the workshop. A number of funding agencies and nonprofits were also in attendance. The talks centered on methods to deliver therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier, including specialized targeting molecules, delivery vehicles designed to carry drugs or genes, and new routes of administration such as intranasal delivery.
Dr. Alexandra Golby of Harvard Medical School gave a talk on the use of MR-guided focused ultrasound for blood-brain barrier disruption and shared her clinical experience. The workshop also included sessions on improving preclinical to clinical translation, regulatory hurdles, and the development of public-private partnerships in this space. Kelsie Timbie, scientific programs manager at the Foundation, said, “I’m thrilled to see that focused ultrasound is gaining recognition as a clinically valid method to deliver therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier, especially among such an esteemed group of blood-brain barrier specialists.”
When using focused ultrasound to create a thalamotomy for essential tremor, does the resulting focal lesion lead to progressive changes in effective connectivity? Do these changes predict clinical outcome? Is it possible to capture direct recordings from stimulated neurons while using focused ultrasound to neuromodulate the brains of large mammals? How does focused ultrasound for gynecological issues fit into the world of minimally invasive and noninvasive medicine? A Special Issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology includes 12 papers that highlight focused ultrasound for the treatment of uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, placenta accreta, endometriosis, and arteriovenous malformation. Other publications address pregnancy outcomes, biomarkers for ovarian reserve, and ablation techniques..
Clinical Validation of Real-time Tissue Change Monitoring During Prostate Tissue Ablation with High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. To improve focused ultrasound treatment for prostate tissue, researchers at SonaCare Medical created and tested a new algorithm to provide real-time feedback that allows the physician to measure the dose of energy that is delivered to the target tissue and to detect whether any energy “scatters” to the area surrounding the target. The study validated this new technique to improve treatment precision. The use of Tissue Change Monitoring will be an additional, real-time resource available to help guide the physicians in determining the dose required for the ablation of the specific patient being treated.
The 2017 Yangtze International Summit of Minimally-Invasive and Noninvasive Medicine (ISMINIM) meeting was held in July in Chongqing, China. Jointly hosted by the Chinese Medical Doctor Association (CMDA), the three-day meeting aimed to accelerate progress in minimally invasive and noninvasive surgery by promoting research, education, communication, and international collaboration, while probing into new and promising clinical applications including high-intensity focused ultrasound.
HistoSonics, Inc., a venture-backed medical device company developing a non-invasive, robotically assisted, platform therapy that uses pulsed sound energy for the precise destruction of targeted tissues, has announced three leadership team developments: Josh Stopek, PhD, who has led R&D and business development teams at Medtronic and Covidien, has joined as Vice President of Research & Development; HistoSonics Co-founder and CTO Jim Bertolina, PhD, has been named to the newly created position of Chief Scientific Officer and will be responsible for leading the company’s translational research efforts and further advancing the science of histotripsy; and Tom Tefft, who spent 24 years as an executive at Medtronic, has been appointed to HistoSonics’ Board of Directors.