CTSA-supported Models Contribute to the First Possible Drug Treatment for Lymphedema

A recent study led by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine uncovered for the first time the molecular mechanism responsible for triggering lymphedema, as well as a drug with the potential for inhibiting that process. Contributing to the study was the Georgia CTSA-supported work of Brandon Dixon, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

As many as 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from lymphedema, a chronic condition causing swelling. The condition stems from a damaged lymphatic system, can lead to infections, disfigurement, debilitating pain, and disability. There is no cure. Currently, the only available treatment is to wear compression garments or use massage to suppress the swelling, which can occur throughout the body in some cases.

“Our main role was to provide the functional imaging of the lymphatics that showed that the therapeutic directly resulted in improved lymphatic function,” said Dixon, and one of the study’s co-authors.

CTSA-Emory University/Georgia Tech Regenerative Medicine and Engineering Center pilot funding supported Dixon’s Dermal Delivery of Endothelin-1 and Nitric Oxide Inhibitors to Regenerate Lymphatic Pumping in a Novel Lymphedema Model project. “The grant provided some crucial funding to get our lymphedema models for NIR imaging up and running. One of these mouse animal models was used in the Science Translational Medicine paper,” said Dixon.

Read More: First Possible Drug Treatment for Lymphedema

The Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA) is a statewide partnership between Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech, and University of Georgia and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

The Pilot Grants program enhances currently available resources from each Georgia CTSA partner by investing in new clinical and translational research paradigms, to encourage young faculty to develop cutting-edge science, and to become the glue that cements investigators and projects across the research consortium.