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Focused ultrasound shows promise against deadliest brain tumor

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | June 23, 2020 Ultrasound

To test out the new technique, the researchers had to develop custom equipment so they could perform the focused ultrasound research on the cell samples. They did this from scratch, using a 3D printer and software at the Charlottesville-based Focused Ultrasound Foundation, a longtime supporter of focused ultrasound research at UVA and elsewhere.

The researchers say the new platform will advance focused ultrasound research in the future. Using it, scientists can quickly screen cell types and sonosensitizing drugs like the one used in UVA's study. It will also be a benefit in pre-clinical and clinical testing in people, they say.

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Pioneering Focused Ultrasound

While the sonosensitizing research is in its earliest phases, Sheehan is launching a separate glioblastoma clinical trial in people using a different focused ultrasound approach. That study will evaluate the technology's potential to open the brain's protective barrier briefly so that doctors can deliver treatments to the tumor that they normally can't.

Sheehan's research is part of a broad effort at UVA to explore the potential of focused ultrasound to treat various types of diseases. For example, UVA researchers are examining the technology's ability to treat breast cancer and epilepsy.

Pioneering research by UVA neurosurgeon Jeff Elias, MD, already paved the way for the federal Food and Drug Administration to approve focused ultrasound to treat essential tremor, a common movement disorder, and tremor caused by Parkinson's disease. Focused ultrasound treatment for those conditions is now available to appropriate patients. Learn more about focused ultrasound at UVA.

Glioblastoma Results Published

Sheehan and his colleagues have published their initial glioblastoma results in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology. The research team consisted of Kimball Sheehan, Darrah Sheehan, Mohanad Sulaiman, Frederic Padilla, David Moore, Sheehan and Zhiyuan Xu. Padilla and Moore are employed by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.

The research was recognized as a gold medal winner in basic science by the AANS/CNS Tumor Section.

In addition, Sheehan and colleagues have seen positive results using a different sonosensitizer, fluorescein, in brain tumor preclinical models. The work also was recently published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.

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