In DepthBiomedicine

Replumbing the lymphatic system

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 140-141
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6411.140

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Researchers have begun to test potential treatments for lymphedema, a condition in which lymphatic fluid doesn't drain normally from a limb or other part of the body. Although some cases are inherited, most patients develop lymphedema because of cancer treatment or parasite infections, and the pent-up lymph can cause swelling, fibrosis, and fat accumulation. No treatments have been able to spur the regrowth of lymphatic vessels. One phase II trial that recently wrapped up was testing a drug called ubenimex that blocks a lipid molecule that prevents lymph vessel regeneration. A second trial is using gene therapy to stimulate new lymphatic vessel growth in patients who developed lymphedema because of breast cancer surgery.