Lymphedema news

Cautious (but big!) Hope

Some good news for breast cancer patients with secondary lymphedema:

On March 6th – Lymphedema Awareness Day – researchers presented investigational pre-clinical data on the first potential pharmacologic agent used in combination with surgery for the treatment of breast cancer associated lymphedema (source). In layman’s terms, this team of researchers have gathered data that shows lymph node transplant surgery could potentially maybe someday be a real thing, thanks to a vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) called Lymfactin.

How would it work?

The therapy with Lymfactin involves a surgical operation where a lymph node flap is harvested from the patient’s lower abdominal wall and injected with Lymfactin, which leads to the transient presence of the adenovirus containing the VEGF-C gene. The lymph node is then transferred to the axillary region.

When the growth factor VEGF-C was injected into tissues of mice and later pigs, there was growth of new lymphatic vessels and restoration of lymphatic architecture. When combined with lymph node transfer, the administration of VEGF-C yielded an 80% improvement in mice with lymphedema. Researchers are developing a treatment that would enable a higher transfer success. Plans to start a phase I/II study in breast cancer patients are set for as early as next year (!).

Wendy Chaite, the founder of LRF, was quoted in the article as saying this treatment is “very promising,” and cites the current lack of any advanced treatments for lymphedema as making this research “all the more important for those who suffer from this condition.”

The implications of this study are huge. Currently, the only treatment options for lymphedema focus on minimizing swelling, controlling pain, and preventing infection. We’ve got wrappings, massages, compression.. nothing to cure or alleviate lymphedema, only maintain it. This condition is way too common to be ignored as much as it is. Let’s all hope that research continues to develop in this positive direction!

What do you think about this news? If it were to become an accessible and reliable treatment, would you do it?

The source for the information in this post came from a press release on MarketWatch.
For more information about Lymfactin, visit the Laurantis Pharma website.

9 comments on “Cautious (but big!) Hope

  1. Jackie Lehr

    Sounds like there might be some risk associated with the surgery itself. All I can think of is, Ugh, more surgery. I’d think seriously about doing it, though. Freedom from diligent lymphedema maintenance is pretty enticing.

    • I know, it’d be a big risk (especially as it’s more or less unknown territory) but it’s so very, very tempting.

      It seems directed to breast cancer patients with secondary lymphedema, but I wonder if it applies to the rest of us, too.. I’m really looking forward to further news about this!

  2. Any improvement in terms of medical procedures that benefits Breast Cancer patients is a huge plus, especially considering that some Breast Cancer patients (or patients of other Cancers) are susceptible to contracting Secondary Lymphedema and aren’t made aware of Lymphedema. I can’t imagine how devasting it would be to beat Cancer and then get Lymphedema (a chronic, debilitating condition).

    • I know! It’s an awful prospect. I really hope this procedure pans out into something that could help all of us.

  3. This sounds exciting to me. I don’t have lmphedema in my arm, I have it in my left leg. I would be willing to try this, if available for the lower extremity. Hope is closer after 14 years…

  4. Karen Ford

    I would be first in line for this treatment. I need to grow 35 new lymph nodes under my right arm. Success would be amazing!

  5. I have primary LE in both legs… and I am really considering to have this done…

  6. Particularly very good report it is truly critically. We???ve been awaiting for this data.

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