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The Focused Ultrasound Foundation has designated the University of Oxford a Centre of Excellence in Focused Ultrasound. Oxford becomes the fifth Centre of Excellence in Europe and the eleventh worldwide. The recognition coincides with the University of Oxford’s celebration of Focused Ultrasound Day.

Dr Paul Lyon, Professor Feng Wu and Professor David Cranston with a patient in the High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) unit at the Churchill Hospital. © John Cairns
Dr Paul Lyon, Professor Feng Wu and Professor David Cranston with a patient in the HIFU unit in Oxford

The Centre of Excellence will be co-directed by Professor Constantin Coussios OBE FREng, Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and Dr Paul Lyon, FRCR DPhil, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS).

Established in 2009, the Centres of Excellence program recognises exceptional focused ultrasound sites throughout the world. The Centres serve as hubs for collaboration, bringing together academia, industry, and the Foundation to champion therapeutic ultrasound technology in innovative ways.

'We are honoured to recognise the University of Oxford as one of the leading focused ultrasound sites in the world,' said Neal F. Kassell, MD, Founder and Chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. 'The team is engaging in critical basic science and translational work that will reach more patients in the United Kingdom, Europe and globally, saving lives and accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound technology.'

Focused ultrasound research has been a hallmark of the Oxford ecosystem since 2004. 'Oxford has been one of the leading therapeutic ultrasound centres in the United Kingdom over the last 20 years,' said David Cranston, emeritus associate professor of surgery, founding clinical director of the Oxford High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) unit and president of The International Society of Minimally Invasive and Noninvasive Medicine (ISMINIM) from 2017-2023. Professor Cranston oversaw the first European trials of extra-corporeal HIFU for liver and kidney ablation that resulted in the CE marking of Chongqing Haifu’s JC system and the launch of a clinical HIFU research facility in Oxford in 2002. 'We are absolutely delighted to be having a closer cooperation with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in the United States through this award and in the growth of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in the United Kingdom. We look forward to promoting the technology for the benefit of patients.'

Professor Coussios was elected to the first statutory chair in biomedical engineering at the University of Oxford in 2011, where he founded the Biomedical Ultrasonics, Biotherapy and Biopharmaceuticals Laboratory (BUBBL) in 2004. He is the lead academic founder of two therapeutic ultrasound companies (OxSonics Therapeutics and OrthoSon Ltd) across the fields of oncology and minimally invasive surgery, has supervised 50 doctoral students in the area of focused ultrasound to date, and co-led four therapeutic ultrasound trials to date for kidney tumours, liver tumours (TARDOX), pancreatic cancer (PanDox), and metastatic colorectal cancer (CEeDD).

'Since the invention of Passive Acoustic Mapping for clinical cavitation imaging in 2007, over 35 patents have been filed and 4 new companies formed to translate novel ultrasound-responsive agents and treatment or monitoring techniques for drug delivery, sonodynamic therapy, transdermal vaccination, antimicrobial therapies, neuromodulation and immune-stimulation', said Centre of Excellence co-Director Professor Constantin Coussios. 'Oxford’s broadband blend of basic science, clinical and commercial translation creates a unique training environment for the next generation of leaders and innovators in therapeutic ultrasound, whom we hope to continue developing and training with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s continued support.'

Dr Paul Lyon is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow in NDS, a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists and conducted the first-in-human clinical trial of ultrasound-triggered drug delivery to the liver (TARDOX).

'More than 700 patients have been screened for ablative or drug-delivery focused ultrasound treatments at Oxford, with some 250 patients treated to date', said Centre of Excellence co-Director Dr Paul Lyon. 'Having conducted the very first clinical trials of ultrasound-enhanced drug delivery outside the brain, we are presently advancing & pioneering clinical therapeutic ultrasound treatments, ranging from ablative techniques for pancreatic tumours and soft tissue sarcomas, to enhanced drug delivery for metastatic colorectal tumours in the liver, and ultrasound-stimulated neuromodulation and immuno-oncology.'

With the current and future financial support of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, funding agencies and donors, the new Centre of Excellence will draw on the expertise of over 23 principal investigators devoted to focused ultrasound research and work in collaboration with industrial partners and other Centres of Excellence around the world to expand the range of novel ultrasound therapies for the benefit of patients.

News coverage

Mirage News (4 October 2023)