St George’s lymphoedema and lipoedema service has received funding of £300,000 from the Lipedema Foundation to find the genetic cause underlying the condition. Lipoedema is a chronic condition where abnormal fat progressively accumulates in the limbs. The subsequent swelling becomes so great that sufferers have great difficulty in moving about and managing everyday life. Lipoedema is often mistaken for obesity or lymphoedema.

Dr Kristiana Gordon (pictured) is leading the clinical trial to find the genetic cause and is currently recruiting 100 patients. She says, “Lipoedema is a poorly researched condition which has had very little interest from the medical community so far. It is debilitating and has a huge physical and psychological impact on patients.

As well as swollen legs, pain can be a dominant symptom. Currently there are no effective treatments so we are hoping that our research will lead to the development of treatments which will improve the health and wellbeing of our patients.”

St George’s is only one of two specialised lymphoedema centres in the country, the other being in the East Midlands. The trial is a joint project with St George’s University. Dr Pia Ostergaard, Professor Sahar Mansour, and Professor Peter Mortimer will form the team along with Dr Gordon. The study will last two years. Dr Gordon said, “If we can understand the genetics behind lipoedema this may help others solve more of the puzzle that is obesity, another fat disorder.”