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Targeting Lymphatics to Treat Trauma-Induced Heterotopic Ossification


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Heterotopic ossification (HO) is the abnormal growth of bone in non-skeletal tissues after trauma. Patients with HO may have difficulty performing normal daily activities because they have decreased range of motion of involved joints or suffer from severe debilitating pain. HO is caused by aberrant tissue repair and is a common complication of trauma. Extremity trauma coupled with a bone fracture is a common form of injury in military personnel and confers an increased risk of HO. The prevalence of HO is further increased in patients with a combination of musculoskeletal trauma and large surface-area burns, which is frequently seen in the setting of blast-injuries. Current treatments for HO include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and surgery. However, these treatments are inadequate for many patients. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new therapies to prevent HO formation and reverse existing HO lesions. Our project is focused on investigating the role lymphatic vessels serve in HO formation. Lymphatic vessels play a role in maintaining tissue fluid homeostasis, trafficking immune cells, and resolving inflammation after injury. There is growing evidence that the immune system serves a critical function the formation and progression of HO. However, the precise role lymphatic vessels serve in the pathophysiology of HO is poorly understood. Filling this gap in knowledge could lead to new and novel treatments for HO and other post-traumatic complications associated with aberrant wound repair.



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