The International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS)

CHICAGO, IL -- Physicians announced today that tiny microbubbles are being used to more effectively deliver a blood clot busting drug to patients while they are in the ambulance during acute heart attack.

"Time is muscle," said Dr. Otto Kamp from VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, stating that the quicker you deliver therapy the more heart muscle you will save.

Liquid suspensions of tiny gas microbubbles  have traditionally been used as a diagnostic imaging tool.  The microbubble suspensions are routinely used as ultrasound contrast agents to improve the clarity and reliability of an ultrasound image without exposing patients to ionizing radiation.  The microbubbles are about a third the size of a red blood cell and, when they are injected into a patient's arm vein, they improve the clarity and accuracy of diagnostic ultrasound exams. The microbubbles are expelled from the body within minutes.

Dr. Kamp's findings move microbubbles from a diagnostic imaging use to an exciting therapeutic application. He used microbubbles along with TPA, a drug that busts blood clots. When the injected microbubbles reached the clot, increased ultrasound frequencies were applied to cause the microbubbles to burst. The burst bubbles create tiny holes in the clot, allowing the drug to work more effectively in its targeted location.

"This permits a lower and safer dose of TPA with reduced side effects, especially hemorrhage and stroke," according to Dr. Kamp.  "This also permits increased doses of TPA and improves the efficiency of this therapy."

Steve Feinstein, a Rush University cardiologist and ICUS Co-president, said the findings demonstrate the vast potential benefits of using microbubble ultrasound contrast agents as a platform for delivering a range of drugs and genes to specific organ systems and tumors.

"Considerable work is underway showing that microbubbles may be useful in delivering cancer drugs, diabetes drugs, and genes that increase HDL -- good cholesterol -- to targeted sites throughout the body," he said.  "Dr. Kamp's work is especially exciting because it now shows how a related technique works in patients."

The Netherlands research was announced at the 27th Annual Advances in Contrast Ultrasound ICUS Bubble Conference, a gathering of physcians and scientists around the world in the fields of cardiology, radiology, vascular medicine, gastro-intestinal medicine, oncology, and other medical specialties.

ABOUT ICUS: ICUS is an international, multi-disciplinary, not-for-profit medical society that is exclusively dedicated to advancing the use of contrast enhanced ultrasound diagnostic imaging to improve patient care worldwide. Founded in September 2008, ICUS brings together physicians, scientists, and other ultrasound imaging professionals from over 55 countries. ICUS members represent diverse specialties such as cardiology, radiology, vascular imaging, gastro-intestinal imaging, oncology, OB-GYN, and hepatology. For more information about ICUS, please visit


Mark Weller, 202.408.3933
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WASHINGTON, DC -- The International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS) today applauded the FDA’s
decision to modify the U.S. product label for OPTISON®, an ultrasound contrast agent used to improve
the accuracy of radiation-free ultrasound scans. OPTISON® is marketed by GE Healthcare.

The label change was supported by a Citizen Petition filed by ICUS in October, citing newer scientific
studies showing the superior safety profile of ultrasound contrast agents along with their favorable risk-
benefit ratios. The Citizen Petition, which was granted in part by the FDA last week, also supported
a prior modification of the label for DEFINITY®, an ultrasound contrast agent marketed by Lantheus
Medical Imaging.

Please click on the attachment below to read the complete press release

NEW -- From IAC (Intersocietal Accreditation Commission), in conjunction with ICAEL and ASE, comes the latest in a series of on-demand, free, educational webcasts:

The Basics of Using Contrast, presented by Paul A. Grayburn, MD of Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX and Michael L. Main MD FASE of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO

To view, click here


Shortages of certain prescription drugs, particularly chemotherapy drugs, have created a public health crises, forcing clinicians to scramble to find life-saving medications for their patients.

In January 2012, legislation was introduced to ensure access to information related to drug shortages to compliment an improved early warning system for the FDA. And more recently, legislation to reauthorize the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) contains a provision to bring critical shortage drugs to market faster via a shortcut for proving manufacturing compliance.

Under the PDUFA legislation, to prevent or alleviate shortages of life-sustaining drugs, the HHS secretary may deem major manufacturing changes in compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMPs) if a drug maker can at least implement adequate interim controls and demonstrate that it has a plan and enough resources to achieve full compliance.

Lantheus Medical Imaging. The drug shortage situation has not been limited to cancer drugs. In an April 13th call with members of the ICUS Board, Lantheus CEO Don Kiepert explained that the manufacturer of DEFINITY®, Ben Venue Laboratories, has been experiencing challenges in meeting production demand for the products they produce, including DEFINITY®. According to Kiepert, BVL has not yet re-started production of DEFINITY®; and DEFINITY® will go on back order from mid-April until the time at which (a) BVL can release new quantities of DEFINITY® or (b) Lantheus’ new contract manufacturer, Jubilant HollisterStier (JHS) can begin commercial production of DEFINITY®.

Lantheus informed members of the ICUS Board that the company expects that at least one and possibly both of their production partners will be manufacturing DEFINITY® during summer, 2012, but that temporary shortages are nevertheless expected to occur.

For a copy of the letter Lantheus has sent to health care providers discussing supply challenges, please click here.

GE Healthcare. In a May statement to ICUS, GE Healthcare stated that the company secured additional supply of its ultrasound contrast agent, OPTISON®, from their current contract manufacturer, Covidien. Also, in an effort to strengthen their supply chain to make sure stock is available for patient needs, GE announced plans to manufacture OPTISON® internally at its plant in Oslo, Norway.

For a copy of the GE Healthcare Statement to ICUS Members, please click here.

The ICUS Board believes that access to ultrasound contrast agents is critical to patient care because contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging provides a safe, reliable, cost-effective and radiation-free option for diagnosing medical abnormalities.

For a review of FDA's approach to medical product shortages, click here

For an Obama Administration fact sheet on actions to reduce US prescription drug shortages, click here

Around 700 international experts met in Vienna to discuss the latest advancements in ultrasound, such as a new technique called real time imaging, and of approximately 200 scientific papers. That was back in 1969 when for the first time physicians and scientists from around the world came together in Austria’s capital to share their knowledge of the use of ultrasound waves in medicine. The success of the meeting led to the founding of the World Federation of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, WFUMB, four years later.


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ICUS is the world’s only professional society exclusively devoted to contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) medical imaging technology.

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