Researchers in America have offered new hope for people with autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
The team at Northwestern University, Chicago, say they have developed a new way of treating these conditions – injections of tiny synthetic particles that trick the immune system into halting its ‘friendly-fire’ attack on the body.
Lead researcher Professor Stephen Miller said the nanoparticle treatment was successful in stopping the progression of MS in mice, and believes that the same approach for humans would improve on current methods, which rely on medication that suppresses the entire immune system, leaving patients at greater risk of infections and cancer .
Miller added, “This is a highly significant breakthrough. The aim was to provide a targeted treatment, unlike immunosuppressio, which weakens the whole immune system.
“We prevented any future relapses for up to 100 days, which is the equivalent of the several years in the life of an MS patient.”
As well as halting the disease for years at a time, he explained that a vaccine containing the particles could also be used to help people suffering from asthma and type 1 diabetes as the nanoparticle treatment can selectively inhibit the part of the immune system responsible for the disease.
“The beauty of this new technology is it can be used in many immune-related diseases. We simply change the protein that’s delivered,” he commented.
The nanoparticles, which are made from a synthetic molecule known as PLG, have already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other medical uses.

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