There’s always something going on in the world of lymphedema and lymphatic research! It can be a lot to keep up with, so here’s a digest of some of the latest headlines from the past month carefully curated to keep you in the lymphie loop.
“Presenting Lymphit: The tech designed to benefit cancer survivors”
Lymphit is a new diagnostic tool currently in development by Dicronis GmbH (a spin-off of ETH Zurich) designed to detect the earliest possible stage of secondary lymphedema. It utilizes a proprietary dissolving microneedles patch, flourescent indocyanine green, NIR spectroscopy, and a wearable device to assess lymphatic function and allow for a more timely diagnosis and effective treatment interventions.
“Plans of attack”
For most of cancer research history, the lymphatic system has been considered one major means of metastasis—a superhighway by which tumors spread to distant sites throughout the body, likely via interstitial flow.
“Despite its importance, the regulatory biology of lymphatic function is poorly understood,” says molecular engineer Melody Swartz. “What we realized is not that we were wrong before, but that it’s more complex.”
It turns out that lymphatic vessels play on both teams, Swartz says, enabling both damaging metastasis and helpful T-cell infiltration. A new understanding of the basic biology of the lymphatic system has the potential, farther down the road, to bring immunotherapies to more patients.
“How do metastatic tumor cells grow in lymph nodes?”
Researchers from the Center for Vascular Research within the Institute for Basic Science and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have revealed a mechanism to suppress the growth and spread of cancer cells in lymph nodes, forestalling any chance for them to invade new territories of the body.
“This study reveals how [cancer cells] adapt to a challenging environment like lymph nodes by switching their energy source to locally abundant molecules such as fatty acids and bile acids to make their way to other organs,” says cancer biologist Dr. Gou Young Koh. “It definitely warrants more extensive investigations in patients with metastatic cancers prior to clinical applications.”
“A shockingly large majority of health news shared on Facebook is fake or misleading”
Health Feedback, a bipartisan network of scientists who assess the credibility of health media coverage, worked together with the Credibility Coalition to examine the 100 most popular health articles of 2018. Of the top 10 shared articles, they found that three quarters were either misleading or included some false information; only three were considered “highly credible.”
“It’s a challenge, because when you see something posted on your social media site that comes from one of your peers, colleagues, or family members, you are more likely to believe it,” said Susan Krenn, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.
The takeaway? Misleading health information spreads quickly across our social feeds. This is something to be mindful of, especially as living with a chronic and progressive condition like lymphedema makes us vulnerable to promises of “miracle cures” or treatments. Click “repost” and “share” with discretion, lymphies!
“Cantwell, Young Introduce Bill to Improve Medicare Coverage for People Living with Lymphedema”
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Todd Young (R-IN), and 28 colleagues introduced bipartisan legislation to improve Medicare coverage for lymphedema patients. The Lymphedema Treatment Act would increase and improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with lymphedema by requiring Medicare Part B to cover physician-prescribed compression therapy garments, which are essential in the effective treatment of lymphedema.
“We must make sure the millions of Americans living with lymphedema can receive the treatments they need,” Senator Maria Cantwell said. “This bill takes a common sense step forward to improve care for lymphedema patients who use Medicare Part B, while also reducing costly hospitalizations.”
Lymphatic filariasis news
Lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis) is a neglected tropical disease caused by parasitic infection to the lymphatic system. It is the leading cause of lymphedema worldwide: of the over 120 million people infected, 40 million are incapacitated or disfigured by the disease.
“Nigeria making progress against diseases of poverty”
Nigeria continues to suffer Africa’s biggest burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), otherwise known as diseases of poverty, despite improving treatment coverage of the diseases between 2015 and 2017.
“Lymphatic filariasis is a particularly difficult challenge for us because it is endemic in large parts of the country – in fact in 583 of the 774 Local Government Areas,” says Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, Nigeria’s National Coordinator of NTDs in the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Out of the 583 endemic Local Government Areas, we have coverage gaps in 37 of them. We are looking for partners and funders to help fill the gaps in coverage of this disease.”
“Lamjung to administer 10th round of MDA for elephantiasis elimination”
Anti-filarial medication will be administered to 166,289 persons in the Lamjung district of Nepal. This is the tenth round of mass drug administration in Lamjung to help eliminate elephantiasis.
“Three percent of Kanchanpur folks infected with elephantiasis”
Six years ago, lymphatic filariasis was found in 20% of the total population in the Kanchanpur district of Nepal. Since then, ongoing drug administration campaigns have reduced that number to 3%, but work remains to be done.
- Little Cora Ruben was born with lymphedema but that’s not the only thing that has caused her hands to swell. “[Professor Földi] said it was 80 per cent fat, 20 per cent lymphedema, and the reason why her swelling wasn’t responding was because the fat was basically keeping us from appropriately compressing her hands,” Cora’s mother Kasey said. [The Sun]
- Friends have rallied around Kathy Morton, a woman who is struggling with lymphedema, by fundraising to buy a compression pump: “I really appreciate it, I’ve been truly blessed with some special friends who have helped me fundraise for this machine.” [Victor Harbor Times]
- Victim reveals desperate fight for help to beat life-threatening lipoedema: “If someone had a heart disease, they wouldn’t be denied treatment. Lipoedema can be every bit as destructive as any of the awful chronic conditions which get treated without question.” [Sunday Post]
- Mayor Rob Muench proclaimed Wednesday, March 6, 2019 as “Lymphedema Awareness Day” in the City of Humboldt. “We just want to make more people aware of it, and with the coverage from the day, possibly more medical people aware of what the affected people go through,” said Marilyn Miller of the Lymphedema Association of Saskatchewan. [Discover Humboldt]
- Cancer patient’s condition left one arm bigger than then other: “I can’t explain how badly affected me – I hated it more than anything I had endured during my treatment for breast cancer, and that includes a mastectomy,” explained Sue Judge. “I was confident I could live without a breast but living with lymphoedema was really traumatic.” [Teesside Live]
- South Australia is the only state in the country that fails to subsidize compression garments for lymphedema patients; Geoff Brock MP is pushing to change that. “It is important for the heath and well-being of sufferers that they have access to the same level of subsidies to assist in managing their conditions as residents from all other states.” [Port Pirie Recorder]
- All hands were raised when the crowd at a recent forum was asked who thought more lymphedema services were needed in New South Wales, Australia. There is currently one part-time professional in the Western NSW Local Health District who deals with lymphedema. [Daily Liberal]
- BBC News spoke to two women about their experiences with lipedema: Kate, who has had surgery, and Anne, who is one of the few women on an NHS waiting list. [BBC News]