The Focused Ultrasound Foundation in Charlottesville, Va., has launched a veterinary program to study focused ultrasound therapies for the treatment of animals. The initiative enables veterinary researchers to test state-of-the-art therapies in their patients, while collecting data necessary to accelerate the adoption of the technology for human applications, according to the foundation.
“Veterinary medicine can lag behind human medicine, leaving veterinarians frustrated with the lack of options for their patients,” said Kelsie Timbie, Ph.D., program director. “Our goal with this program is to create a win-win scenario for all involved. Veterinarians will have new, innovative therapies to offer clients, and insights gained in dogs and cats will help inform clinical trial design in humans.”
The goal of the research program is to offer a variety of benefits over traditional therapies in animals, including faster recovery times, a reduced risk of infection, and no aggravating stitches to chew. Focused ultrasound is an effective way to treat inaccessible areas, as well as incompletely treated or recurrent tumors, according to the foundation.
The first study in this program will take place in early 2018 at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and will use focused ultrasound to treat naturally occurring soft tissue tumors, such as sarcomas and mast cell tumors, in dogs.
“We hope to use focused ultrasound to non-invasively destroy tumors and to disrupt tumor cell membranes and stimulate a dog’s own immune system to fight the cancer,” said Jeffrey Ruth, DVM, who will lead the VMCVM study. “Because many types of tumors that affect people also occur naturally in dogs, focused ultrasound could not only augment the traditional approach to cancer in dogs but also advance our understanding of human cancer.”
“Traditionally, animals have served as models in comparative studies before innovative therapies can be explored in human trials,” said foundation chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “This trial allows us to apply the experience obtained using focused ultrasound in humans to treating dogs.”
Future veterinary studies are being planned to use focused ultrasound for other types of cancer, wound healing, non-invasive spaying, and denervation for pain from hip dysplasia. Focused ultrasound can also be used in combination with chemo- and immunotherapies to target and/or enhance those treatments.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is actively seeking to promote interest in focused ultrasound within the veterinary community. Visit bit.ly/2hoNidg for more information.