GMRI advances in vascular birthmarks showcased at international conference


Dr Tinte Itinteang

Two years of hard work at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) was presented recently on the world stage at the 21st International Workshop on Vascular Anomalies.

Speaking to an audience of about 1,000 attendees, GMRI’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Tinte Itinteang, gave one oral and three poster presentations on behalf of the GMRI at the conference, held in Buenos Aires in late April.

The international conference is held biennially for medical professionals and research scientists to share any advances and progress made in their chosen areas of expertise in vascular birthmarks.

“I was honoured to be able to present the findings on behalf of the GMRI team. Vascular birthmarks are a broad topic and the conference had a good balance of medicine and science, which set the scene for a wide variety of opinions and discussions,” Dr Itinteang said.

The GMRI’s three poster presentations related to the GMRI’s ongoing work in strawberry birthmark and venous malformation, a birthmark consisting of abnormal dilated veins which causes disfigurement, loss of function and physical symptoms such as pain.

Dr Itinteang’s oral presentation was titled Expression of Embryonic Stem Cell Markers in Pyogenic Granuloma – a vascular condition caused by over-granulated tissue. The paper centred on the role of stem cells in this tumour.

The poster on venous malformation demonstrated the renin-angiotensin system, the regulatory pathway discovered by scientists at the GMRI. It received a positive response, particularly from researchers from Arkansas and Wisconsin (USA), who are working on similar conditions.

“There will always be critics and admirers of any idea. Having the people from Arkansas researching the role of the renin-angiotensin system in strawberry birthmark is a rare, but nice, confirmation of our work.”

Dr Itinteang said it was thought-provoking to hear the other complex cases being presented at the conference, and to learn about clinical trials taking place elsewhere in the world.

The next conference will be held in two years’ time. However, the rules around presenting ideas have changed; in future only unpublished work will be included.

“Science evolves month to month and this was proven by what others have been working on over the past two years and the positive patient outcomes which have been achieved.”

The GMRI has continued to provide a strong presence at the forum since Dr Swee Tan first embarked on his study of strawberry birthmarks 20 years ago, as well as hosting the international conference in Wellington in 2004.