March 19, 2014
Senator Mark Warner made a visit to the University of Virginia Medical Center Wednesday to check out some cutting edge technology that has the potential to help fight several forms of cancer.
Focused ultrasound (FUS) technology uses an MRI to precisely focus beams of ultrasound energy on a target within a patient's body, like a tumor. Although the technique still in its early stages, the technology could become an alternative to surgery or radiation treatments for cancer patients.
"This could really transform a whole host of medicines, a whole host of treatments, and the upside potential is enormous," Sen. Warner said.
The technique allows doctors to treat one very specific spot without causing side effects to others. FUS is currently used to treat tumors in the uterus and pain related to bone cancer, but doctors think it can treat other illnesses.
"We will be implementing ultrasound guided focused ultra sound technology to treat thyroid lesions and lesions in the breast, so this is just the beginning," said Alan Matsumoto, the Focused Ultrasound Center's co-director.
Senator Warner says FUS has so much promise that it's important funding for it, and other research projects, continue even in tight economic times.
"This could be one of the great breakthroughs that we look bad five of 10 years from now and say 'can you believe the used to operate for this particular type of brain tumor? Now it's a thing of the past'," said the senator.