From the April 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Jessica L. Foley
Innovation is the driving force for biomedical research as we strive for health care that is safer, more effective and of greater value.
Continued innovation requires collaboration, particularly in this time of limited resources, global competition and long timelines from bench to bedside. The biomedical community is recognizing the need to break down the silos that impede progress, and foundations — including the Focused Ultrasound Foundation — are realizing a need for quick and widespread dissemination of research results that will forge new partnerships among multiple stakeholders including researchers, clinicians, industry, government and patients.
Promising areas of focused ultrasound, including brain applications and cancer immunotherapy, are benefiting from this culture of collaboration. Recently, there have been many exciting developments in the field of focused ultrasound that are demonstrating the potential of this early-stage, noninvasive therapeutic technology to treat a wide range of serious medical disorders.
Due to focused ultrasound’s ability to elicit more than 18 distinct bio-effects in the body — including destroying tissue, delivering drugs in high concentrations, enhancing radiation therapy and stimulating an immune response — it is now approved or under investigation to treat more than 70 conditions ranging from neurological disorders to cancers, and beyond. Recent Food and Drug Administration approvals for the treatment of essential tremor and prostate diseases have propelled the technology into many clinics and academic medical centers around the world, expanding patient access to this exciting new therapy. As these and emerging clinical applications of focused ultrasound advance through clinical trials and gain critical regulatory approvals, and new fields of research take off, it is clear that collaboration has helped to fuel progress and bring successes at a faster pace.
The tools of a new research Paradigm
Over the last several years, foundations are playing an increasingly critical role in moving research discoveries to the clinic and to commercialization. As many companies have become more risk averse, foundations can help to de-risk innovations. The flat or declining availability of research funding from government and industry players has left a critical need. Organizations like the Focused Ultrasound Foundation have become models for how donor funding can be used to bridge the gap between laboratory research and widespread patient treatment. Foundations are driven by the needs of patients and tasked with being good stewards of their donors’ generous contributions.