Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland have successfully used focused ultrasound for the first time to non-invasively ablate part of a recurrent glioma tumor through a patient’s intact skull. The procedure was performed to assess the feasibility and safety of focused ultrasound in treating brain tumors; it was not intended to demonstrate efficacy. The procedure was conducted using InSightec’s Exablate Neuro system.
Focused ultrasound employs thousands of ultrasound beams that converge on a spot deep in the body. At this focal point, the ultrasound can cause a variety of biological effects, and in this case, heat and destroy the cancerous tissue.
The treatment was conducted at the Focused Ultrasound Center of University Children’s Hospital Zurich by a team led by Javier Fandino, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery at Kantonsspital Aarau, Switzerland and Ernst Martin, M.D., Professor of Neuroradiology, University Children’s Hospital Zurich.
“The patient was awake and responsive during the treatment, and we were able to successfully target and destroy a part of the tumor located deep within the patient’s brain,” reports Dr. Fandino. “We are very encouraged that we could utilize focused ultrasound to accomplish this with no side effects or complications.”
“The ability of focused ultrasound to accomplish both small lesions for functional neurosurgery as well as bulk lesions for tumor ablation is amazing,” added Dr. Martin.
There is an urgent need for new approaches to treating brain tumors. With its ability to noninvasively and accurately target and destroy diseased areas while sparing healthy adjacent brain tissue, focused ultrasound could be the breakthrough that patients and physicians have been waiting for.
“Treatment of this patient is the first critical step in the path to developing a new, noninvasive approach for patients with brain tumors that could serve as an alternative to surgery or radiation therapy,” said Neal F. Kassell, M.D., Chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “Additional clinical trials to prove safety and efficacy are required to translate this milestone into a treatment that could improve the quality of life and longevity for countless individuals.”
The Foundation applauds the work of the Swiss team. Brain tumors are a priority focus of the Foundation, which has an aggressive multi-faceted research program in place to accelerate progress.