On the Horizon: Focused Ultrasound for Brain Tumors?

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. ultrasound-beam-plan-266w

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.