BIOE Seminar: Engineered therapies and biomaterials for enhancing lymphangiogenesis

Friday, September 15, 2023
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
A. James Clark Hall, Room #2121
Katharina Maisel

Dr. Brandon Dixon  
Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, 
Georgia Institute of Technology 

Engineered therapies and biomaterials for enhancing lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic function 


The lymphatic vasculature provides essential physiologic support to a variety of tissues throughout the body through its roles in maintaining fluid balance, providing a route for protein and waste clearance from the interstitium, facilitating immune cell and antigen trafficking to lymph nodes, and absorbing dietary lipid from the intestine. While significant advances have been made in the last two decades in our understanding of many of the molecular mechanism underlying lymphatic formation and function, translating this knowledge into functional therapies has been limited. In this talk I will summarize two different technologies developed by our research lab and network of collaborators that deliver mRNA to lymphatic endothelial cells, and deliver small molecule calcium channel agonists to lymphatics to enhance lymphatic pumping.

S-(−)-Bay K8644 (BayK), a small-molecule agonist of L-type calcium channels was loaded into plutonic-propylene sulfide based nanoparticles of 30 nm in diameter, that have previously been shown to have high lymphatic targeting when delivered intradermally in vivo. These BayK-NP were tested on isolated vessels, in healthy mice, and in a mouse model of lymphedema to quantify their efficacy on lymphatic contractility. When formulated within lymph-draining nanoparticles (NPs), BayK acutely improved lymphatic vessel function, affects not seen from treatment with BayK in its free form. By preventing rapid drug access to the circulation, NP formulation also reduced BayK’s dose-limiting side effects. When applied to a mouse model of lymphedema, treatment with BayK formulated in lymph-draining NPs, but not free BayK, improved pumping pressure generated by intact lymphatic vessels and tissue remodeling associated with the pathology.

In a second study, a large in vivo screen of over 100 different lipid nanoparticle formations were screened in the mouse for LNPs to deliver mRNA to lymphatic endothelial cells. Each formulation was loaded with a unique DNA barcode and mRNA that encoded for an exogenous protein that would be synthesized and expressed on the cell surface. Several unique formulations, including LNP7, were identified that were highly effective at enhancing mRNA delivery to LEC. When compared to a standard commercially available LNP formulation of similar size, made with the lipid MC3, LNP7 showed a 3-fold increase in mRNA delivery to LEC in the draining lymph node and in the collecting lymphatic vessel. Lastly, when loaded with VEGF-C mRNA, LNP7 resulted in targeted, enhanced VEGF-C production in vivo and improved lymphatic drainage in an injury model.

This work reveals the utility of two different lymph-targeting NP platforms to pharmacologically enhance lymphatic pumping in vivo with small molecules and to deliver mRNA to LEC in vivo and highlights promising new approaches to treating lymphatic dysfunction.

Audience: Public  Campus  Clark School 

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