A nanoparticle delivering antigens could trick the immune system into resetting itself in multiple sclerosis, according to a study in mice with the model disease experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The research is published in Nature Biotechnology.
The tiny, biodegradable particle, studded with myelin antigens, reset the mouse's immune system, stopping it from attacking the myelin protective sheath around the nerves. This "resetting" of the immune system, preventing the onset of the disease, or reducing its symptoms, is known as immune tolerance.
"We administered these particles to animals who have a disease very similar to relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and stopped it in its tracks," says Stephen Miller of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "We prevented any future relapses for up to 100 days, which is the equivalent of several years in the life of an MS patient."
According to the team, led by researchers from Northwestern University, this is the first MS approach that doesn't shut down the immune system across the board, reducing the risk of infection and cancer. This approach has potential in other immune-mediated diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, food allergies and asthma, simply changing the antigen that is delivered. Studies are under way in diabetes and asthma.
While the results in mice are promising, it's important to remember that this is early-stage research, and has not yet been tested in people. However, this could be a lower-cost and simpler alternative to one currently in a Phase I/II clinical trial that uses the patient's own white blood cells.