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First U.S. patients undergo innovative brain cancer treatment in new clinical trial at HCA Healthcare’s Johnston-Willis Hospital

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | October 13, 2023 Alzheimers/Neurology Ultrasound
NASHVILLE, Tenn., October 12, 2023--(BUSINESS WIRE)--HCA Healthcare’s Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, is the first hospital in the United States to provide treatment in a new clinical trial for patients with brain metastases from lung cancer. This clinical trial, conducted by HCA Healthcare Research Institute and sponsored by Insightec, a global healthcare company pioneering the use of focused ultrasound technology, investigates the benefit of combining noninvasive focused ultrasound with systemic immunotherapy as an alternative.

Johnston-Willis Hospital is hosting the trial and has already enrolled the first two U.S. patients who are currently undergoing a total of six treatment cycles each. The patients have metastatic brain cancer, which originated from cancer cells spreading to the brain from the primary tumor in their lungs. The new treatment uses Insightec’s system to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which defends the brain against harmful substances, but also prevents critical medications from being delivered. By opening the BBB, non-small cell lung cancer medications may reach and target the critical lesions in the brain.

"The potential success of this trial could be groundbreaking in the management of metastatic brain tumors, not only for lung cancer, but also for breast cancer and melanoma," said neurosurgeon K. Singh Sahni, the principal investigator of the trial and medical director of the Neuroscience and Gamma Knife Center at Johnston-Willis Hospital. "There are remarkable new cancer medications that have excellent results in the body, yet cannot reach the brain because the blood-brain barrier currently impedes their flow. By opening the BBB, the hope is that such therapies will lead to equally good therapeutic responses in the brain as it currently has on other organs, such as the lung and liver."

The MR-guided focused ultrasound system was developed by Insightec and is already FDA-approved to use thermal ablation to treat essential tremor and Parkinson’s Disease that do not respond well to medication treatment. Johnston-Willis Hospital has treated 150 people living with essential tremor using focused ultrasound. In this trial, a different Insightec system that was developed solely to temporarily open the BBB and allow passage of immunotherapy to enable noninvasive treatment of brain tumors, is used.

"It is incredibly important for both patients, and the healthcare industry as a whole, to participate in potentially groundbreaking clinical trials like this," said Dr. Michael Cuffe, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of HCA Healthcare. "It is a privilege to utilize the scale of HCA Healthcare to explore new treatment options to help deliver better care to patients."

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