Near-infrared Fluorescence Lymphatic Imaging
Description: NIRF imaging promises to deliver high-resolution, low-cost images of lymphatic vessel architecture and pumping. In disease states such as lymphedema, manifested by severe limb swelling, NIRF imaging can provide information for diagnosis and evaluation of treatment efficacy.
About the speaker: Dr. Aldrich received her B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas-Austin, M.B.A. from the University of Houston, and Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston, focusing on severe combined immune deficiency. Her postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine entailed development of cancer dendritic cell and DNA vaccine strategies, including study of regulatory T cell and memory T cell responses. Dr. Aldrich’s interests lie in investigating immune factors that influence lymphatic dysfunction and in translating lymphatic imaging technology to the clinic. Dr. Aldrich brings a combination of expertise in translational science and immunology to lead the program of lymphatic imaging, the circulatory system which is critical to immune surveillance and response. NIRF imaging promises to deliver high-resolution, low-cost images of lymphatic vessel architecture and pumping. In disease states such as lymphedema, manifested by severe limb swelling, NIRF imaging can provide information for diagnosis and evaluation of treatment efficacy. As part of a translation team, Dr. Aldrich has conducted clinical measurements that prove the usefulness of NIRF imaging to investigate lymphatic vessel architecture and function in health and disease. Her study of NIRF images of breast cancer-related lymphedema arms revealed that the severity of the disease worsens over time not only in the “affected” arms (that received surgical and/or radiological treatment associated with the side of breast cancer treatment), but also in the contralateral (“unaffected”) arms. This work added evidence to other studies suggesting that lymphedema is a systemic, not just local, disease. Dr. Aldrich will lead a new five-year NIH-funded prospective study of breast cancer patients who are at high risk of developing lymphedema, investigating immunological changes that may contribute to lymphedema. Dr. Aldrich has also worked in NIRF imaging studies of primary, or genetic, lymphedema and rare fat-associated genetic disorders with lymphatic abnormalities. Dr. Aldrich recently conducted a study of pneumatic compression therapy (PCT) for lymphedema, and produced visual “proof” that this modality enables lymph movement in grades I, II, and III lymphedema patients. The Centers for Medicare/Medicaid and other major medical insurers have previously denied reimbursement for this therapy, pending proof of efficacy. These study results could enable provision of PCT for the millions of lymphedema patients in the U.S.