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Virginia-Maryland to research focused ultrasound

If proven, veterinary applications could target sarcomas, wound healing and non-invasive spaying.

Virginia-Maryland to research focused ultrasound

The Focused Ultrasound Foundation will expand into animal health in 2018 when the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine studies the use of high-intensity ultrasound to treat naturally occurring 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 the study’s director, assistant professor Jeffrey Ruth, DVM, MS, DABVP, DACVR. “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.”

The Charlottesville, Virginia, organization describes focused ultrasound as an “early-stage, non-invasive therapeutic technology that could transform the treatment of many medical disorders by serving as an alternative to surgery and radiation.” The foundation since 2006 has researched the use of focused ultrasound in human medicine.

“Traditionally, animals have served as models in comparative studies before innovative therapies can be explored in human trials,” said foundation chairman Neal F. Kassell, M.D. “This trial allows us to apply the experience obtained using focused ultrasound in humans to treating dogs.”

The foundation is planning other veterinary studies of focused ultrasound in areas such as wound healing, non-invasive spaying and denervation for pain from hip dysplasia.

“Our goal … is to create a win-win scenario for all involved,” said Kelsie Timbie, Ph.D., the foundation’s veterinary program director. “Veterinarians will have new, innovative therapies to offer clients, and insights gained in dogs and cats will help inform clinical trial design in humans.”

Virginia-Maryland is enrolling eligible pets in the canine cancer study. More information is available by emailing clinical trials coordinator Mindy Quigley at [email protected].

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