Partner 4

Name: INSERM U556, Lyon, France
Role: Leader of WP 8
Contact persons: Jean Yves Chapelon, Cyril Lafon, Neil Owen

The organisation and the lab

INSERM is the National Institute for Health and Medical Research in France. Unit 556 (U556) is one of the 335 laboratories of this institute. Projects in this unit involve three main research areas: interaction between ultrasound and biological tissues, thermal ablation of tissues using High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), and the use of cavitation for ultrasound therapy.

A synergistic association of leading-edge theoretical and experimental research has earned U556 international recognition in the fields of diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound. These research activities, lying at the interface between physics and medicine, require considerable investment and many years of gradual training in specific skills for all researchers, engineers, and technicians involved.
The main objective of the INSERM U556 laboratory is to develop new non-invasive or minimally-invasive applications of therapeutic and diagnostic ultrasound. The scope of the research mostly concerns basic ultrasound physics and therapeutic applications of ultrasound in oncology, but also medical imaging, with particular emphasis on ultrasonic imaging and MR imaging as guidance tool for real time control of thermotherapy. The U556 laboratory aims to:
• gain better understanding of the interactions between ultrasound waves and biological tissues,
• study ultrasound-induced damages at the molecular and the cellular level,
• develop and test new minimally-invasive therapeutic techniques based on ultrasound,
• develop novel feedback control methods of the delivered thermal dose, integrating the fast MR thermometry with the therapeutic devices,
• translate these new techniques from the laboratory to clinical testing and to industry.
Over the last four years, the laboratory produced approximately 100 peer-reviewed publications in international journals, 200 communications in international conferences, and 6 international patents – one of which allowed the commercialization of a new Ablatherm® version in May 2005, and one is the cornerstone of the new company Theraclion created in 2004.