Dr. Michael Kaplitt, our Vice Chair for Research, made news this summer when he became the first in New York to use Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) to treat patients with essential tremor, just a week after the technology received FDA approval. The completely non-invasive technique uses 1,000 low-energy ultrasound waves focused on a precise spot in the brain, each individual wave sparing healthy tissue while the combined energy destroys its target.
The potential for using focused ultrasound for other brain disorders is enormous, since the technique temporarily disrupts the blood-brain barrier that keeps chemotherapy drugs away from brain tumors. Dr. Kaplitt and Dr. Souweidane, along with research technician Melanie Schweitzer, are initiating a project that will investigate the use of focused ultrasound combined with an implanted pump to deliver DIPG-fighting drugs to a tumor site. The team theorizes that focused ultrasound may allow doctors to manipulate where drugs are delivered, increasing the precision of that delivery.