400 experts gather at Focused Ultrasound Foundation's annual meeting

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 28, 2014
Courtesy of FUSF
Focused Ultrasound Foundation held their fourth international symposium this month to highlight the success that the technology had in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, obsessive compulsive disorder, cancer, hypertension and uterine fibroids. Over 400 physicians, scientists and government and industry representatives from around the world came together in Bethesda, Maryland to present their latest research.

"The preliminary data and newly initiated studies suggest that focused ultrasound is on the precipice, shifting from an innovative early-stage therapy into a tool poised to disrupt the provision of care for some of medicine's most vexing conditions," Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, member of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation board of directors, said in a statement.

The Yonsei University College of Medicine presented a study that investigated the feasibility of focused ultrasound to treat OCD patients who haven't had luck with other treatments. The researchers put thermal lesions on the patients' brains using focused ultrasound and they found that four out of nine patients improved after six months.

Stanford University School of Medicine announced the preliminary results of their feasibility study involving focused ultrasound to treat benign and malignant soft tissue tumors of the extremities. Out of the ten patients who have been treated, 68 percent of their tumors were ablated.

If that approach becomes widely used in clinical practice, it could potentially do away with surgery and all of the side effects that come along with it, including skin and nerve injury. The university is looking to partner with other centers to conduct a larger trial in the future.

The University Hospital Mutua Terrassa in Barcelona treated 43 patients with un-resectable pancreatic cancer tumors from 2010 to 2014 — 29 with stage III and 14 with stage IV cancer. The median survival rate for the patients after the treatment was 16 months.

The Breastopia Clinic in Japan conducted a study in which 72 patients with early stage breast cancer were treated with focused ultrasound after they received standard radiation. After 68 months, none of the patients had a recurrence, and after seven years there was only one local invasive recurrence.

Sapienza University of Rome used focused ultrasound to treat pediatrics with osteoid osteoma — benign yet painful bone tumors. Out of the 29 patients treated, 27 of them experienced bone restoration. All of the patients were able to tolerate the treatment and there were no adverse events.

"We host this Symposium to serve as a crucible for fostering collaboration across the field," Dr. Neal Kassell, founder and chairman of the FUSF. "And having more than 400 experts travel from 24 countries to share their research demonstrates the impressive potential of this non-invasive technology to transform the treatment of many serious medical conditions."

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