For patients suffering from atherosclerosis, a condition where arteries become blocked due to plaque buildup on artery walls, treatment options can be limited to drugs or an invasive angioplasty procedure. A new technology coming out of the University of Minnesota is hoping to give patients a new noninvasive treatment option.
The University’s Ultrasound Imaging and Signal Processing Lab (UISPL) recently developed a new high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) technology that performs noninvasive, real-time ultrasonic imaging and localized treatment. The University team was lead by Emad Ebinni, a professor at the University’s College of Science and Engineering, and was licensed to International Cardio Corporation (ICC), a Minnesota startup, in March.
This new method of HIFU is similar to current treatment systems like MRI or ultrasound guidance. Like these treatment systems, a HIFU shot of nonionizing radiation is delivered to a very small, localized treatment area, usually as small as a grain of rice. What sets the University’s new technology apart is that it images tissue response to a HIFU shot at intervals of less than 10 milliseconds apart, creating a more dynamic ultrasound image and near instant feedback. By comparison, using MRI, HIFU shots are delivered at 2-5 second intervals with little to no feedback.
For doctors and patients this provides an imaging technique that is safer, more accessible, more efficient and precise, and less expensive. The new HIFU technology is able to not only treat vascular diseases like atherosclerosis, but also tissue abnormalities caused by cancer, tumors or fibroids.
The University’s research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Army’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), and ICC. Researchers from UISPL will be presenting at the Innovation Hall of the Governor’s Job Summit at the St. Paul Crowne Plaza on October 25. Their work shows how Minnesota has continued to lead the way in the medical sector through cutting-edge research and innovation.