Perspectives on Recent Progress in Focused Ultrasound Immunotherapy

Theranostics. 2019 Oct 15;9(25):7749-7758. doi: 10.7150/thno.37131. eCollection 2019.


Immunotherapy holds tremendous promise as a strategy for eradicating solid tumors. However, poor T cell infiltration and persistence within most solid tumor microenvironments, as well as mechanisms of adaptive resistance, continue to severely limit the accessibility of most immunotherapies to a broad patient population. This limitation perpetuates the demand for allied therapeutic strategies. Among such strategies is focused ultrasound (FUS), a non-invasive, non-ionizing technique for precisely targeted acoustic energy deposition into tissues. FUS has gained remarkable attention over recent years as a modality for elicitation of immune mechanisms in cancer and other pathologies. In 2017, we published a comprehensive review paper detailing existing evidence for immune modulation and therapy with FUS, as well as impending challenges and opportunities of consideration for the field. Over the last two years, a multitude of clinical trials have come online to explore safety, feasibility, and efficacy of FUS for cancers of the brain and periphery - including the first clinical trial to combine FUS with immunotherapy. Moreover, the last two years have seen a surge in FUS immunotherapy presentations at therapeutic ultrasound scientific meetings. Given the burst of activity in this field, we submit that an update on FUS immunotherapy progress is timely. In this review, we offer an updated overview and perspectives on scientific and clinical development in the FUS immunotherapy domain.

Keywords: cancer; focused ultrasound; immunotherapy; targeted drug and gene delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology
  • Brain / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / methods


  • Immunologic Factors