The overall goal of my research is to use technology to improve healthcare. One way this goal can be achieved is through the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods that can extend our ability to restore health or relive the symptoms of diseases that are not effectively treated today. To help to reach this goal, my research interests have focused on the development of noninvasive therapy and imaging systems.
Most of my current research interests are centered in utilizing focused ultrasound in medicine. Focused ultrasound can provide highly localized and controllable energy deposition deep in the tissue when it is guided by noninvasive imaging such as MRI. This high frequency pressure wave can be used to probe tissue properties and functions for diagnostic purposes or to modify tissue to provide treatment. The rapid and focal energy delivery can induce tissue temperature elevation such that the target is coagulated within a few seconds without damage to the overlying or surrounding tissues. Similarly, by modifying the pressure wave, various biological effects can be induced, including the occlusion of blood vessels, the disintegration of thrombi, and the increase of blood vessel wall and cell membrane permeability. The research so far has concentrated in harnessing this power of ultrasound for minimally or completely non-invasive interventions and imaging. These research initiatives entail considerable collaboration across disciplines, across institutions, and with industry, and they are starting to make an impact on patient care. With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other granting agencies and collaborating with private industry, three major research initiatives have been established:
To develop high power, MRI-guided ultrasound phased array technology, including theoretical models, transducer arrays, deriving electronics, and controlling software for controlled and noninvasive ultrasound exposures of tissues.
To develop systems for ultrasound exposure of brain through the intact skull for MRI guided noninvasive tumor surgery and local drug delivery
To develop intracavitary applicators and image guidance methods for exposure of tissues close to body cavities.
FUS has been shown to be able to safely ablate deep tissue in clinical settings resulting in reduction in recovery time and complications. Pre-clinical work has demonstrated that FUS energy deposition could be used also for non-invasive MRI-guided drug delivery into tumours and brain. The preclinical studies have shown significant survival benefits when FUS has been used to open the blood-brain-Barrier (BBB) for large molecular chemotherapy agents and natural killer cells. This talk will briefly review the clinical thermal ablation experience, pre-clinical data for drug delivery, Alzheimer's Disease treatment and thrombolysis. Finally, the next generation phased array technology and its clinical potential will be discussed. From the clinical and experimental studies it is clear that FUS will have a huge impact on health care when it is optimally and fully clinically implemented.