A guest blog post by Annalisa Zecchin, PhD, 2018 GRC Travel Award Winner.
My name is Annalisa Zecchin, I’m a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Cancer Biology, VIB-KULeuven (Leuven, Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Peter Carmeliet. I was awarded a LE&RN Travel Award in 2018 to attend the “2018 Lymphatics Gordon Research Conference.”
Our laboratory recently discovered that acetyl-CoA is a central hub in the regulation of lymphatic vessel growth. The production of acetyl-CoA is dependent on the availability of metabolites such as glucose, fatty acids, acetate and ketone bodies. The goal of my research is to determine whether nutrient supplementation, to increase the availability of acetyl-CoA in lymphatic endothelial cells, can induce lymphatic vessels growth and improve their functionality in pathological conditions of lymphatic dysfunction, such as lymphedema. My research could unveil an entirely innovative therapeutic avenue (dietary modulation) for targeting insufficient lymphangiogenesis leading to lymphedema. If successful, this will be the first metabolic pro-lymphangiogenic treatment, and will represent a milestone in the treatment of lymphedema.
The 2018 Lymphatic Gordon Research Conference was an excellent opportunity to share my recent advances with the scientific community. I benefited from fruitful interactions with key leaders in the field, and I had the chance to discuss and receive valuable feedback from the other participants. I undoubtedly expanded my knowledge and background in the field of lymphangiogenesis, and the many scientific interactions and discussions with colleagues allowed me to settle pivotal partnership and collaborations that are currently leading to novel research avenues.
The lymphatic research field has been rapidly growing in the past years, with the ultimate goal of better understanding the biology behind disease onset and progression and improve the quality of life of patients affected by lymphatic diseases. Much more still needs to be uncovered, but the many efforts and great dedication of medical doctors and research scientists all around the world will certainly lead to further important discoveries in the near future.