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Focused Ultrasound Gets the Spotlight in Cancer Moonshot Initiative

The Scoop

Focused ultrasound isn’t just the stuff of John Grisham’s latest novel, The Tumor. Could the real-life medical technology revolutionize cancer treatment? With the help of Veep Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, it just might. 

Overview

  • Cancer Moonshot launched to accelerate cancer research
  • Focused ultrasound leader, Dr. Neal Kassell, named to advisory panel
  • Potential new cancer treatments on the horizon

The Details

Vice President Joe Biden is on a quest to get rid of cancer once and for all through his Cancer Moonshot Initiative. This new effort, backed by President Obama and $1 billion in funding, aims to break down barriers and facilitate collaboration among researchers, clinicians, drug companies, and other vital players in the fight against cancer. The goal is to achieve about 10 years’ worth of advancements in just five. And it’s gotten behind a new technology that just might revolutionize the way we treat cancer. 

Focused ultrasound is a non-invasive therapy that uses ultrasound technology delivered via an MRI machine to target specific parts of tissue in the body. 

Remember that science experiment you probably tried as a kid where you captured the sun’s rays with a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a leaf? Focused ultrasound works the same way, but it uses sound beams instead of light. The concentrated sound waves are able to destroy tumors and unwanted tissue, all without the need to go under the knife or receive radiation.

Recently, Dr. Neal Kassell, one of the technology’s leading advocates and founder of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, was named to Biden’s advisory panel for the Moonshot Initiative. With Dr. Kassell on board, focused ultrasound is likely to get more attention in the coming years as Biden and his team seek new treatments to cure cancer. 

While it’s only approved to treat uterine fibroids, prostate cancer, and bone metastases in the U.S., clinical trials are underway to get additional applications approved. And Dr. Kassell believes it can treat various cancers plus diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 

In Europe, focused ultrasound is already being used to treat a long list of conditions, including breast cancer, kidney cancer, and liver cancer. Hopefully the Moonshot will be the driving force needed to bring this technology and other innovative cancer treatments out into the open.