The award, established in honor of Dr. Murray F. Brennan, the former Chair of Surgery of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and world renowned specialist in sarcoma surgery, provides $75,000 per year for two years for research conducted by a graduate of the MSKCC Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program. Dr. DeMore completed her surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2001, and has since established her research in developing novel therapies for angiosarcoma at UNC.
“There is a desperate need for novel therapies for patients with angiosarcoma who are not candidates for surgery. Non-surgical local therapies that eradicate tumors for unresectable angiosarcoma could palliate symptoms and possibly improve survival.” according to Dr. DeMore.
The award will fund a collaboration with Paul Dayton, Ph.D., a faculty member in Biomedical Engineering who develops new ultrasound technologies. The research will investigate the effect of high-intensity focused ultrasound on surgically inoperable tumors, with the intent of created a noninvasive alternative to surgical treatment.
The technique under investigation uses the combination of therapeutic ultrasound and a microbubble agent to physically damage the tumors. The one-to-five micron microbubbles - comprised of a core of inert gas surrounded by a lipid, protein or polymer shell - oscillate when exposed to ultrasound. Similar microbubbles are already utilized routinely as contrast agents in echocardiography, and the FDA has approved therapeutic ultrasound treatments to remove uterine fibroids noninvasively. Although these microbubbles are quite safe when used with the ultrasound energies used for imaging, they can disrupt a tumor’s vascular supply when exposed to low-frequency therapeutic ultrasound.