Sunnybrook focused ultrasound on the cover of Nature Reviews Neurology

Sunnybrook at the forefront of decades of progress in focused ultrasound research

Nature Reviews Neurology

Sunnybrook researchers have published a comprehensive review of the state of the field of focused ultrasound in the brain featured on the cover of the January 2021 print edition of Nature Reviews Neurology, a high-impact journal.

Drs. Nir Lipsman, Kullervo Hynynen and Ying Meng are the authors of “Applications of focused ultrasound in the brain: from thermoablation to drug delivery”, an extensive resource on focused ultrasound, its applications, challenges, and future forward vision of the potential of the field.

Focused ultrasound is an innovative, scalpel-free, image-guided surgical technology that harnesses the power of ultrasound to precisely target areas in the brain and body, avoiding the need for incisions or cutting.

Dr. Hynynen, Vice President of Research and Innovation at Sunnybrook is a pioneer in focused ultrasound technology and along with Dr. Lipsman, Director of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook, they have led teams in ground-breaking clinical trials investigating focused ultrasound for Alzheimer’s disease, treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and beyond. Their leading-edge work led to the approval for focused ultrasound in the treatment of essential tremor.

Sunnybrook researchers have conducted more focused ultrasound clinical trials than any other site in the world.

Sunnybrook is a Centre of Excellence in Focused ultrasound, as recognized by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. It is the only Canadian site to have received this designation.

Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, Vice President of Research and Innovation at Sunnybrook:

Since I began working in the field more than 35 years ago, we’ve made tremendous technological progress to advance therapeutic ultrasound, improving our ability to precisely intervene in key circuits that drive common and challenging brain conditions. Despite this, considerable scope remains for technical and clinical advancement. In the coming years, we anticipate advancements in optimized ultrasound focusing and correction, unique patient-specific ultrasound treatments and approaches which minimize heating, allowing us to couple focused ultrasound with novel therapies and expand treatments to more patients. To ensure this progress, a global, concerted effort through collaborative research networks is needed.

Dr. Nir Lipsman, Director, Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook:

Focused ultrasound is dramatically expanding the possibilities for targeted, precision strike medicine and more personalized treatment for patients. With MRI-guided focused ultrasound, the use of ultrasound waves instead of invasive surgery with scalpels means a patient may better tolerate a procedure and potentially have a faster recovery with less time spent in hospital. Focused ultrasound applications now span the clinical spectrum in neurological and psychiatric diseases, with insights still emerging from preclinical models and human trials. To achieve the ultimate goal of improved clinical outcomes and standard of care, broad interdisciplinary collaborations will be required.

Dr. Ying Meng, neurosurgery resident:

It is critical to continue research into the rapidly expanding field of focused ultrasound and the potential applications of this innovative technology for the benefit of both clinicians and patients. Across the global landscape of focused ultrasound clinical trials and research lies the potential for the transformation of treatment and care. Future studies will also investigate the delivery of established pharmaceuticals and novel therapies to regions of the brain with focused ultrasound. These advances are occurring in the context of an urgent and growing need for safe and effective approaches to the most common brain disorders.

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