What is it about?

We are evaluating the present possibilities to treat lymphedema by growing new lymphatic vessels (either inside the patient or outside the patient with following implantation).

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Why is it important?

Lymphedema has no causal treatment. The standard of care is symptomatic treatment using complex decongestive therapy (CDT). CDT is successful in managing the symptoms, but does not address the underlying problem. The underlying problem are nonfunctional and/or underdeveloped lymphatic vessels. Growing new functional lymphatic vessels in patients or in the laboratory (using e.g. lymphatic growth factors such as VEGF-C) could solve this problem.

Perspectives

There has been much progress in the engineering of lymphatic vessels and the first clinical trials to boost lymphatic growth in patients are ongoing. However, these trials target secondary lymphedema, because it is likely easier to treat due to the intact underlying molecular machinery. The hereditary cases are much more difficult, because each of them has a specific molecular dysfunction, that needs to be addressed. In addition, provisioning lymphatic growth after birth can most likely not undo many of secondary developmental problems, that have already resulted from the compromised lymphatic growth.

Dr Michael Jeltsch
Helsingin Yliopisto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Lymphatic Vessels in Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering, Tissue Engineering Part B Reviews, October 2016, Mary Ann Liebert Inc, DOI: 10.1089/ten.teb.2016.0034.
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