University Hospitals in Iowa City is one of a few places on the planet where an experimental drug is being used to deflate large painful cysts that can form on the bodies of patients with lymphatic trouble. The U-of-I’s Doctor Mark Smith says patients are coming to Iowa City from around the nation for treatment of the deformities.
The malformations usually occur in kids in the head and neck just under the skin. They fill up with lymphatic fluid and can compress the upper air/digestive tract and can make swallowing and breathing difficult. A drug called O-K-4-3-2 is being used to treat what Smith describes as water balloons. The drug is injected into the cyst and causes a reaction.
Smith says they’re not sure how or why but the inflammatory response makes the lesions swell up and then dissolve from the inside, stick back down and after a few injections, they can disappear completely. Smith is working with a colleague at the U-of-I, another doctor with the same last name, to perfect the procedure.
Richard Smith, the principal investigator, is working with the F-D-A to study the drug, which he brought over from Japan, and set up the multi-institutional study that’s let the U-of-I become one of only ten or eleven places in the U.S. where O-K-4-3-2 is being tested. Dr. Mark Smith says they’re getting calls, sometimes several a day, from parents and doctors across the U.S. who are interested in learning more about the experimental, promising therapy.