UVA Health launches world's 1st ultrasound immunotherapy cancer center

Charlottesville, Va.-based UVA Health and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation have launched the world's first cancer center focused on enhancing the effectiveness of immunotherapy treatment by combining it with focused ultrasound. 

The Focused Ultrasound Cancer Immunotherapy Center will be co-directed by Craig Slingluff, MD, director of UVA Cancer Center's Human Immune Therapy Center; David Brenin, MD, division chief of breast and melanoma surgery at UVA Health; and Richard Price, PhD, Lawrence R. Qurales Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, according to a May 11 news release. 

Focused ultrasound technology has been found to advance the effectiveness of immunotherapy for many cancers. 

"It can stimulate the body's immune response to convert immunologically 'cold' tumors — such as most breast cancers — into 'hot' tumors, making more patients responders," said Neal Kassell, MD, founder and chair of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. "It can also enhance the delivery of immunotherapeutics to tumors, and it may also augment the effectiveness of immunotherapeutics, enabling more robust and prolonged response to drugs and decreasing the doses needed." 

UVA Health's CEO, K. Craig Kent, MD, said the two organizations' initial $8 million investment will fund novel focused ultrasound devices, new jobs and laboratory studies and clinical trials.

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