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SonALAsense Q&A with Dr. Scott Plotkin

Dr. Scott Plotkin, MD, PhD is the Executive Director at the Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Giovanni Armenise– Harvard Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He completed his neurology training at Mass General Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in 2002, and then trained in neuro-oncology at Mass General Hospital the following year. He has been on the faculty ever since and now also sits on the Scientific Advisory Board for SonALAsense.

Over the past 18 years, Dr. Plotkin’s primary responsibilities have been to care for patients with brain tumors and other tumors of the nervous system. Throughout his tenure, what has struck him the most is the challenges in neuro-oncology for common and malignant tumors like glioblastomas or high-grade cancerous gliomas – primary brain tumors.

These challenges, in part, have fueled his drive to further treatment possibilities for patients, and ultimately led him to SonALAsense.

Q: What drew you to SonALAsense and Sonodynamic Therapy?

A: I’ve participated in multiple research studies for treatment of highly aggressive tumors such as glioblastoma, and the vast majority have included medical treatments such as small molecule inhibitors or antibodies. We’ve also participated in studies of  immunotherapy and radiation. With the exception of temozolomide, which was approved in 2005, we haven’t had any therapies that have been approved for the aggressive tumors. I met Mark de Souza (SonALAsense CEO) through a mutual interest in finding new treatments, specifically in neurofibromatosis type 1, and he introduced me to SonALAsense.

In the beginning, I was unsure about using ultrasound to activate ALA in order to selectively target tumor cells. Compared to other approaches that have traditionally been used in neuro-oncology, this approach (sonodynamic therapy) is highly speculative. But the idea is out-of-the-box, pushing the field forward, and we are already seeing some very positive initial results with the first clinical trial.

Q: You touched on the lack of advancements in this field. Can you share more?

A: The current approaches, employed year after year, have led to few or no clinical advances. In the case of glioblastoma, the tumor is incredibly challenging to treat. The five-year survival rate is less than 10%. So even if we can improve this by 5 or 10%, that would be a big step forward for us.

I’m even more passionate about the idea that this approach (SDT) may be a platform for other difficult to treat tumors, whether these are low grade gliomas in an unfortunate location that is difficult to access, or meningiomas or other tumors that take up ALA. One of the things that I really appreciate about this innovative approach is the potential impact on the broader field of neuro-oncology. I’m really excited about where we’re going.

June 21, 2022 at 6:00:00 PM


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