National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year
Launch of UK Focused Ultrasound Foundation could see more clinical trials
The UK Focused Ultrasound Foundation (UK FUSF) has been formally launched. Together with its sister organisation in the US, the UK FUSF will help fund laboratory research and clinical trials in the UK, with the intention of significantly increasing patient accessibility to already approved focused ultrasound-based treatments, which currently have limited availability in the UK.
In the UK, focused ultrasound is currently approved to treat prostate cancer and essential tremor, but it has dozens of approvals for applications worldwide. Specific areas of focus for the UK FUSF will include cancer immunotherapy, brain diseases, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and paediatric applications.
How does focused ultrasound work?
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive therapeutic technology which works by using an acoustic lens (similar to a magnifying glass) to concentrate multiple intersecting beams of ultrasound on a target deep in the body with extreme precision and accuracy. The ultrasound beams pass through the tissue with little effect, but at the point of convergence can cause a wide range of bioeffects on the target tissue.
How could it help brain tumour patients?
Research is currently underway for the use of focused ultrasound in the enhancement of drug delivery to diseased brain tissue. The brain is protected by the blood brain barrier, a protective layer which is extremely restrictive on what makes it through into the brain. Focused ultrasound, used along with microbubbles, has been shown to open up these tightly joined cells and allow the delivery of drugs that previously have not made it through, including immunotherapeutics, stem cells and nanoparticles.
Dr Karen Noble, our Director of Research, Policy and Innovation, said: “Focused ultrasound is an exciting area of brain tumour research, offering a targeted, less-invasive way to cross the blood brain barrier for more effective drug delivery to the brain. We are delighted that the Focused Ultrasound Foundation has launched in the UK and we are looking forward to seeing how its use can improve outcomes for brain tumour patients.”
- Award for scientist funded by Brain Tumour Research for her work on using non-invasive and targeted ultrasound technology combined with microbubbles
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