[This blog was adapted from a presentation made by Morry Blumenfeld on June 14, 2019, at the joint meeting of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) and the European Focused Ultrasound Charitable Society (EUFUS) in Barcelona, Spain.]
In June, I was honored to have been invited by EUFUS to present a tribute to my close friend, Professor Ferenc A. Jolesz, who was instrumental in all the subjects that were considered during the recent ISTU/EUFUS meeting in Barcelona. I am privileged to have taken part in the journey that Ferenc and I experienced together in the development of image-guided therapy and focused ultrasound.
In the foreseeable future, our shared vision is that the lives of millions of people around the world will be improved, and the cost of their care will be reduced, as a result of a revolution in therapy created by focused ultrasound – a noninvasive, game-changing, highly disruptive technology that is an alternative or supplement to traditional surgery, radiation, drug therapy, and immunotherapy.
Scale of Focused Ultrasound Technology
The revolution in therapy created by focused ultrasound will be of the same magnitude as the revolution in diagnosis created by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, in terms of impact on health and wellness. And, like MR scanning, it will result in a multibillion-dollar industry.
As the chief medical officer of the Foundation, I am occasionally asked what I would do to manage prostate cancer if I were ever diagnosed with it. There are many factors to consider, including:
Consider this hypothetical example: if I were diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer (Gleason 3 + 3), I would be eligible to receive focal treatment – as opposed to hemi-ablation or whole-gland ablation. However, my physician would be unlikely to recommend any treatment, invasive or otherwise.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. The five-year survival rate is only 18.6 percent, and more than half of people with lung cancer die within one year of diagnosis. These devastating statistics bring to light the gravity of the current lung cancer landscape. Despite continued efforts by physicians and scientists around the world to improve the statistics, lung cancer remains almost impossible to cure and difficult to control with the current treatment modalities of surgical resection, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.Complete surgical resection of the primary tumor is currently the only cure for lung cancer, and only in some cases. However, almost 70 percent of cases are deemed inoperable at the time of diagnosis due to advanced stage of the disease. The addition of focused ultrasound as an alternative or complement to current therapies has the potential to improve lung cancer outcomes, especially for those whose tumors are inoperable.
The diffusion or adoption of a new therapeutic medical device technology occurs exponentially – and focused ultrasound (FUS) is proving to be no exception. In fact, the field of focused ultrasound has been gathering momentum and growing at a rate that has vastly exceeded any of our expectations.
When we started the Foundation in 2006, for example, there were only a few focused ultrasound manufacturers; today there are nearly 50. There are also now more than 130 FUS clinical indications in various stages of development (with 25 regulatory approvals worldwide, including five by the FDA in the US), 19 mechanisms of action, approximately 700 research sites, more than 650 treatment sites, and more than 250,000 patients to date worldwide who have been treated. As I have recently said, we are now at the inflection point of the adoption curve for this innovative, revolutionary, disruptive technology.