Arkansas Children’s, UAMS awarded $3.2 million NIH grant

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 263 views 

The National Institute of Health awarded $3.2 million to Arkansas Children’s and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to innovate new treatment options for children with rare vascular conditions.

The Little Rock-based health providers said they will use the money to lay the foundation for a new treatment that could transform the quality of life for children with lymphatic malformations that often cause breathing and feeding difficulties, pain, infections, and disfigurement.

Dr. Graham Strub, a pediatric head and neck surgeon at Arkansas Chiidren’s who also teaches at UAMS, will lead the research team during the five-year study. Strub and his team have been collecting tissue and blood from lymphatic malformation patients intending to develop new treatments to reverse their growth and improve their quality of life.

Strub’s team discovered the abnormal expression of several genes that appear to drive lymphatic malformation growth. The team seeks to understand molecular changes that contribute to normal development and disease.

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 this abnormal gene expression.

“Current treatments for lymphatic malformations have many limitations and often require multiple interventions over a long period of time,” Dr. Strub said. “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.”