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Arkansas Children’s and UAMS Get $3.2M to Study Treatments for Vascular Abnormalities

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The Arkansas Children’s Research Institute and UAMS have been awarded a $3.2 million federal grant to study treatments for children with lymphatic malformations, Arkansas Children’s said in news release Tuesday.

Dr. Graham Strub, a pediatric surgeon at Arkansas Children’s and an associate professor at UAMS, will lead the research team during the five-year study. He and members of his laboratory have been collecting tissue and blood from lymphatic malformation patients with the goal of developing new treatments to reverse the malformations’ growth and development.

Such malformations often cause breathing and feeding difficulties for children, along with pain, infections and disfigurement.

Using a novel approach that combines data from genomics, transcriptomics, epigenetics and proteomics, Strub’s lab discovered the abnormal expression of several genes that appear to drive lymphatic malformation growth, according to the release.  Collaborating with Dr. Robert Griffin, a professor of radiation oncology at UAMS, they will study how microRNAs, which are small molecules that silence the expression of specific genes, can reverse the abnormal gene expression.

“Current treatments for lymphatic malformations have many limitations and often require multiple interventions over a long period of time,” Strub said in the release. “The development of transdermal microRNA therapeutics that silence the genes responsible for lymphatic malformation growth could significantly improve the quality of life of these children.”

The grant comes from the National Institutes of Health and is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

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