ARPA-H launches program to catalyze transformative advances in lymphatic medicine


ARPA-H launches program to catalyze transformative advances in lymphatic medicine 

Program aims to shine a light on the unseen lymphatic system 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), today announced the Lymphatic Imaging, Genomics, and pHenotyping Technologies (LIGHT) program, which will pursue comprehensive diagnostic tools and revolutionize detection of lymphatic dysfunction. 

The lymphatic system is vital for human health yet invisible to the naked eye resulting in significant challenges to determine lymphatic dysfunction. Millions of Americans with lymphatic dysfunction, including the over 10 million with lymphedema, are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed due to lack of diagnostic tools to assess the lymphatic system’s structure and function. This leads to inappropriate treatments, prolonged hospital stays, absence from school and work, disfigurement, disability, and even death.  

“The lymphatic system is underappreciated, and its critical role in our health has been overlooked for far too long,” said ARPA-H LIGHT Program Manager Kimberley Steele, M.D., Ph.D.. “It takes care of waste removal, maintains our body’s fluid balance, transports fat and protein, and supports our immune system. It plays a critical role in the spread of cancer and is also an important factor in many chronic diseases including heart disease. We are decades behind in developing diagnostic tools to assess the health of the lymphatic system. This program will change that.”  

Signs and symptoms of lymphatic dysfunction do not manifest until the disease has progressed, and clinical symptoms can be subtle and overlap with other conditions. Through a forthcoming Innovative Solutions Opening (ISO), LIGHT will address these challenges by pursuing novel and critical capabilities to assess the health of lymphatic system. The LIGHT ISO will request proposals focused on three technical areas (TA): diagnosis and monitoring through biomarker discovery (TA1), imaging technologies to assess whole-body lymphatic structure and function (TA2), and prevention, prediction and diagnostic confirmation through genetics, epigenetics, and models of lymphatic dysfunction (TA3). 

“The LIGHT program has the potential to transform lymphatic medicine from an invisible and undervalued discipline to one recognized as essential for our health,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. “Today, people with lymphatic disease may remain misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for years; some never get a diagnosis. In the future, with a comprehensive set of tools, the journey to diagnose lymphatic dysfunction could be measured in minutes, accelerating the path to future interventions.”  

Multiple awards under this solicitation are anticipated. Resources available will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. Learn more about LIGHT on its program page, including information about the Special Notice, Proposers’ Day registration, and how to state interest to form an applicant team.