Hemangioma Pediatric Research and Clinical Trials

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Research & Innovation

At Boston Children's Hospital, we’re known for our science-driven approach. In fact, we’re home to the world's most extensive pediatric hospital research enterprise, and we partner with elite health care and biotech organizations around the globe. But as specialists in innovative, family-centered care, our physicians never forget that your child is precious, and not just a patient.

Stem cells suggest a better therapy for hemangiomas
Hemangiomas consist of tangled masses of blood vessels. Researchers led by Joyce Bischoff, PhD, in Children's Vascular Biology Program, recently discovered that infantile hemangiomas originate from stem cells. The corticosteroids typically used to treat problematic hemangiomas interfere with these cells and how they work, information that may help their lab find new approaches to treating hemangiomas.

Since endothelial cells are the major cell type in blood vessels, they were assumed to be steroids’ target. But in the New England Journal of Medicine, Shoshana Greenberger, MD, PhD, in Bischoff's lab, demonstrated that steroids act on the much rarer hemangioma stem cells, blocking their ability to stimulate blood vessel growth by shutting down production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), a well-known stimulator of angiogenesis.

“We already have drugs targeting VEGF, so our findings open the way to finding a more specific, safer therapy for hemangioma,” says Greenberger.

Bischoff's lab is now searching for other agents that would shut down cellular VEGF-A, stop the proliferation of hemangioma stem cells and prevent them from forming unwanted blood vessels.

New Surgical technique decreases facial scarring

Every surgical operation results in a scar of some size. However, John B. Mulliken, MD, co-director of Boston Children’s Hospital's Vascular Anomalies Center, developed an innovative way to reduce scars resulting from surgical removals of hemangiomas.

Instead of using a traditional excision that leaves a linear scar, we often remove hemangiomas with a circular excision and something called a “purse-string suture.” This technique results in a scar that’s approximately one-third of the length of a scar from the traditional surgical method.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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