Yale researchers improve lupus drug with nanogel delivery

An illustration of hydrogels at work against aberrant immune cells.--Courtesy of Yale

Yale researchers have developed a new nanogel delivery platform to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes.

Unlike current treatments, the nanogels deliver drugs in relatively low doses and remain active in the body for a longer time. In mice, the nanogels increased the animals' survival with lupus by about three months, which is equivalent to approximately 8 years in humans, according to the university.

The small vessels carry the tried-and-true immunosuppressant mycophenolic acid, which deactivates targeted immune cells, suppressing their aberrant response in patients with lupus and other autoimmune diseases. The delivery permits a much lower dose to be highly effective by distributing the drugs more efficiently to the affected organs and, from there, targeting the specific immune cells with precision.

"We're especially excited about this work because it is the first in-depth and comprehensive application of a promising nanotechnology for directed immunosuppressant delivery in a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with limited therapeutic options," Professor Tarek Fahmy, lead author of the study, told Yale News. "We'll keep at this, because the potential for human benefit is clear and promising."

The nanogels are made of materials already approved by the FDA, and the delivery method has been tested against cancer and in vaccines. Thus, the technology could be met with a slightly expedited process as it works its way toward human trials.

- here's the story from Yale University
- and here's the study in The Journal of Clinical Investigation