Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From the Bioengineering Initiative: The Potential of MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound

Guest post by Kevin Cleary, PhD, Technical Director and Principal Investigator at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation

The Bioengineering Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation welcomed a special visitor and guest speaker on August 4th. Professor Andreas Melzer, MD, DDS, the Director of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology at the University of Dundee, toured the Bioengineering lab and gave a lecture titled “Pediatric Multimodality Image Guided Diagnosis, Therapy and Non invasive Surgery: the Integrated Interventional Imaging Operating System IIIOS”.

(Photo, right: Dr. Melzer delivers a lecture on focused ultrasound to the Bioengineering team.)

Dr. Melzer’s talk described his experiences developing novel technology for minimally invasive interventions over the last 20 years. He focused on non-invasive therapy applications such as MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS). MRgFUS works by focusing an ultrasound beam on a small target area where it can heat and destroy cancerous tissue from outside the body, without the need for a surgical incision. The procedure is monitored by MR imaging, and the treatment area can be shaped to conform to the region of interest, so that the cancerous region can be destroyed without damaging nearby healthy tissue or critical anatomy.

“MrgFUS now has over 100 installations worldwide and interest in this technology continues to grow”, said Dr. Melzer. “While to date the vast majority of these applications have been for the adult population, now is an opportune time to investigate the applicability of these techniques to pediatrics. Recent exciting research has revealed the option to use MRgFUS for release of drugs from nano-encapsulated drugs and to increase cell permeability for enhanced drug uptake, which is another venue for this technology”. Further information can be found at

“Focused ultrasound is an ideal treatment modality for pediatrics because of the non-invasive nature of the treatment”, said Peter Kim, MD, PhD, vice president of the Sheikh Zayed Institute, who also attended the lecture. “This treatment concept fits in perfectly with our vision of making pediatric surgery less invasive and more precise”.

In the discussion that followed, led by Dr. Melzer and Dr. Kim, the group talked about exploring the use of non-ionizing radiation in image-guided interventions for neonatal and fetal procedures and establishing collaborations between the two institutes.

--Kevin Cleary, PhD

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