Scientific Research Highlights Potential of MR-HIFU Technology for New Cancer Therapies

AMSTERDAM, June 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) paper* details results of a pre-clinical study into the combined use of drug-loaded temperature sensitive liposomes and MR-HIFU for local tumor treatment.

Royal Philips [ ] , a leader in health technology, today announced the publication of a joint scientific paper based on research by scientists at Philips Research, Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and University Hospital of Cologne (Germany) on the use of MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound (MR-HIFU) induced heating to locally release cancer drugs and thermally destroy tumor tissue.

As part of Philips' efforts to advance cancer care, the company and its academic partners are exploring various targeted imaged-guided therapies to locally treat tumors. It is anticipated that with such therapies, the tumor tissue is destroyed while minimizing collateral damage to surrounding tissues and organs. The results of this preclinical study have been published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) [ ] - one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals. The paper describes how HIFU therapy, guided by MR imaging and used in conjunction with drug-loaded temperature sensitive liposomes (drug filled blood-borne nanoparticles) could be used to improve cancer treatment efficacy without adding additional toxicity.

In recent years, HIFU has been introduced as a non-invasive technique that is currently being used for the treatment of benign lesions such as uterine fibroids. The new scientific research detailed in the PNAS paper focuses on the combined use of MR-HIFU induced therapeutic hyperthermia (heating of tissues to temperatures between 40oC and 43oC) to locally deliver chemotherapeutics, and thermal ablation (elevating tissue temperature above 55oC) to locally treat tumor tissue. Simultaneous MR imaging provides real-time anatomical imaging of the treatment area, while the MR signal itself can be used to measure the instantaneous temperature at any point in the tumor, providing the real-time feedback required for accurate temperature control and profiling.

"The PNAS paper shows the unique potential of MR-HIFU technology that enables hyperthermia to locally release drugs and thermal ablation in a single procedure," said Edwin Heijman PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Department Oncology Solutions at Philips Research. "This has been an important scientific milestone in our research. I am convinced that we can use this approach for clinical translation with our partners."

The co-authors of the PNAS paper investigated the efficacy of therapies that combine the hyperthermia induced release of Doxorubicin from temperature sensitive liposomes and high temperature ablation therapy to treat rhabdomyosarcoma (skeletal muscle tumor) in a pre-clinical model. Special attention was paid to the distribution of released Doxorubicin in the margins of the tumor and surrounding tissue before and after applying both thermal therapies to the tumor core. The aim was to establish a protocol that would not only destroy the bulk of the tumor by heat but also treat tumor cells in the tumor margin while sparing surrounding tissue. The most effective protocol in terms of survival was found to be injection of the Doxorubicin-loaded liposomes, and then two 15-minute sessions of hyperthermia followed by ablation of the tumor core, which increased survival time threefold compared to unheated administration of Doxorubicin or Doxil (Caelyx).

The research was co-funded by the Netherlands' Center for Translational Molecular Medicine VOLTA project, in which Philips was a consortium partner, NanoNextNL, and the European Union FP7 SONODRUGS project. The FP7 iPaCT project on image-guided pancreatic cancer therapy also contributed to the study. Clinical translation of the MR-HIFU approach described in the PNAS paper will be further explored in the German BMBF project TSL-LIFU together with the biopharmaceutical company Thermosome and clinical partners University Hospital of Cologne and University Hospital of Munich.

*    Hijnen N, Kneepkens E, de Smet M, Langereis S, Heijman E, and Gruell H, Thermal combination therapies for local drug delivery by magnetic resonance-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) doi. 10.1073/pnas.1700790114. 

A PDF version of the study on MR-HIFU technology published in PNAS can be found here [ ].

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips' health technology portfolio generated 2016 sales of EUR 17.4 billion and employs approximately 70,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at

For further information, please contact: 
Mark Groves 
Philips Strategy and Innovation 
Tel.: +31-631-639-916 

Steve Klink 
Philips Group Press Office 
Tel.: +31-6-1088-8824 


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