Lymphedema is a very serious problem, Caron said. Not only does it limit your mobility, but it can be quite painful and disfiguring.
The only current treatments for the condition using low-compression stockings and other garments, and massage are not much help, Caron says. Before now, only a dozen or so genes had been implicated in the formation of lymphatic vessels, or lymphangiogenesis, and none of them have yet yielded an effective therapy. But through this study, the researchers have described three new targets, adrenomedullin and two of its partners in the cell, which together hold true promise for a pharmaceutical treatment for lymphedema.
Caron and her team of researchers discovered the importance of this hormone in the formation of the lymphatic system after genetically manipulating mice so that they completely lacked either adrenomedullin or its related cell partners. They found that these mice looked a lot like other mice with impaired lymphangiogenesis. Careful examination showed that the lymph sacs that normally take up excess fluid from the tissues were much smaller than they should be, and the sacs without adrenomedullin were made up of fewer cells than normal.
By increasing adrenomedullin within the cells of the lymphatic system, the researchers believe that they can encourage the lymph sacs to proliferate and take up more fluid. Not only could this approach provide a new treatment for lymphedema, but it may also prove useful in preventing the spread of cancer because invasive cancers sometimes penetrate the lymphatic vessels and metastasize to distant sites.
In cancer treatments of the future, patients suffering from these aggressive cancer
|Contact: Les Lang|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill