A collaborative research team led by Rich Price, PhD, at the University of Virginia and Justin Hanes, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University has published new, and somewhat unexpected, results from their preclinical nanoparticle gene delivery work.
Researchers at the University of Virginia are exploring ways to break through the blood-brain barrier using MRI-guided focused ultrasound.
The approach, the researchers hope, could revolutionize treatment for conditions from Alzheimer’s to epilepsy to brain tumors – and even help repair the devastating damage caused by stroke.
Richard J. Price, PhD, of UVA’s School of Medicine and School of Engineering, is using focused soundwaves to overcome the natural “blood-brain barrier,” which protects the brain from harmful pathogens. His approach aims to breach the barrier only where needed, and only when needed, and then deliver treatments in exquisitely precise fashion.
University of Virginia researchers are pioneering the use of focused ultrasound to defy the brain’s protective barrier so that doctors could, at last, deliver many treatments directly into the brain to battle neurological diseases. The approach, the researchers hope, could revolutionize treatment for conditions from Alzheimer’s to epilepsy to brain tumors – and even help repair the devastating damage caused by stroke.
“Because focused ultrasound has such a powerful combination of features — it’s an entirely unique and minimally invasive tool that can trigger a variety of responses in the body — it has tremendous potential for treating a host of medical problems,” says Richard Price, PhD, who is research director at the University of Virginia Focused Ultrasound Center. “There are probably many applications for focused ultrasound that we haven’t even begun to contemplate yet.”
One way to get drugs through the blood-brain barrier: smuggle them across using sound waves.
An early-stage, non-invasive therapy, focused ultrasound works by focusing multiple beams of ultrasound onto targets deep within the body with a high degree of accuracy. In doing so, the focused sonic energy can destroy targeted cells while sparing adjacent normal tissue. But that’s not all it can do – as well as ablating tumours or other disease targets, focused ultrasound can be used to stimulate an immune response, open the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and much more.
For patients suffering from metastatic breast cancer, where the disease has spread throughout the body, the survival rate is only 22%. These women and men face ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives, often with harsh side effects. Although treatable, there is no cure for metastatic disease.
The University of Virginia Health System is working to change that, and has launched a clinical trial that uses groundbreaking focused ultrasound technology to target metastatic breast cancer and make tumors responsive to immunotherapy—without surgery.
October 17, 2017.
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? These questions and more are being tackled by scientists in the Price Laboratory at the University of Virginia’s Biomedical Engineering Department.
October 11, 2017
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation announced that Richard Price, professor of biomedical engineering, radiology and radiation oncology, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the $75,000 Andrew J. Lockhart Memorial Prize.
Terry and Eugene Lockhart, the parents of the award’s namesake, presented the prize on Oct. 2.
20 August 2015
The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) and Cancer Research Institute (CRI) are collaborating with the Foundation to fund a new preclinical research project using focused ultrasound to enhance immunotherapy for melanoma brain metastases.