Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Pharma Outsourcing
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Research Breakthrough Selectively Represses the Immune System

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Bookmark and Share
NIH-funded scientists develop new treatment to combat autoimmune disease in mouse model.

In a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed innovative technology to selectively inhibit the part of the immune system responsible for attacking myelin - the insulating material that encases nerve fibers and facilitates electrical communication between brain cells.

Autoimmune disorders occur when T-cells - a type of white blood cell within the immune system - mistake the body's own tissues for a foreign substance and attack them.

Current treatment for autoimmune disorders involves the use of immunosuppressant drugs which tamp down the overall activity of the immune system.

However, these medications leave patients susceptible to infections and increase their risk of cancer as the immune system's normal ability to identify and destroy aberrant cells within the body is compromised.

Supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at NIH, Drs. Stephen Miller and Lonnie Shea at Northwestern University, Evanston, teamed up with researchers at the University of Sydney, and the Myelin Repair Foundation in Saratoga, Calif. to come up with a novel way of repressing only the part of the immune system that causes autoimmune disorders while leaving the rest of the system intact.

The new research takes advantage of a natural safeguard employed by the body to prevent autoreactive T-cells - which recognize and have the potential to attack the body's healthy tissues - from becoming active. They report their results in the Nov. 18 online edition of Nature Biotechnology.

"We're trying to do something that interfaces with the natural processes in the body," said Shea. "The body has natural mechanisms for shutting down an immune response that is inappropriate, and we're really just looking to tap into that."

One of these natural mechanisms involves the ongoing clearance of apoptotic, or dying, cells from the body. When a cell dies, it releases chemicals that attract specific cells of the immune system called macrophages.

These macrophages gobble up the dying cell and deliver it to the spleen where it presents self-antigens - tiny portions of proteins from the dying cell - to a pool of T-cells.

In order to prevent autoreactive T-cells from being activated, macrophages initiate the repression of any T-cells capable of binding to the self-antigens.

Dr. Miller was the first to demonstrate that by coupling a specific self-antigen such as myelin to apoptotic cells, one could tap into this natural mechanism to suppress T-cells that would normally attack the myelin.

The lab spent decades demonstrating that they could generate antigen-specific immune suppression in various animal models of autoimmune diseases.

Recently, they initiated a preliminary clinical trial with collaborators in Germany to test the safety of injecting the antigen-bound apoptotic cells into patients with MS.

While the trial successfully demonstrated that the injections were safe, it also highlighted a key problem with using cells as a vehicle for antigen delivery:

"Cellular therapy is extremely expensive as it needs to be carried out in a large medical center that has the capability to isolate patient's white blood cells under sterile conditions and to re-infuse those antigen-coupled cells back into the patients," said Miller. "It's a costly, difficult, and time-consuming procedure."

Thus began a collaboration with Dr. Shea, a bioengineer at Northwestern University, to discuss the possibility of developing a surrogate for the apoptotic cells.

After trying out various formulations, his lab successfully linked the desired antigens to microscopic, biodegradable particles which they predicted would be taken up by circulating macrophages similar to apoptotic cells.

Much to their amazement, when tested by the Miller lab, the antigen-bound particles were just as good, if not better, at inducing T-cell tolerance in animal models of autoimmune disorders.

Using their myelin-bound particles, the researchers were able to both prevent the initiation of MS in their mouse model as well as inhibit its progression when injected immediately following the first sign of clinical symptoms.

The research team is now hoping to begin phase I clinical trials using this new technology. The material that makes up the particles has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is currently used in resorbable sutures as well as in clinical trials to deliver anti-cancer agents.

Miller believes that the proven safety record of these particles along with their ability to be easily produced using good manufacturing practices will make it easier to translate their discovery into clinical use.

"I think we've come up with a very potent way to induce tolerance that can be easily translated into clinical practice. We're doing everything we can now to take this forward," said Miller.

In addition to its potential use for the treatment of MS, the researchers have shown in the lab that their therapy can induce tolerance for other autoimmune diseases such as type I diabetes and specific food allergies.

They also speculate that transplant patients could benefit from the treatment which has the potential to retract the body's natural immune response against a transplanted organ.

Dr. Christine Kelley, NIBIB director of the Division of Science and Technology, points to the unique collaboration between scientists and engineers that made this advance a reality.

"This discovery is testimony to the importance of multidisciplinary research efforts in healthcare," said Kelley. "The combined expertise of these immunology and bioengineering researchers has resulted in a valuable new perspective on treating autoimmune disorders."

In addition to a grant from NIBIB (R01-EB013198-02), the research was also supported by NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS026543), the Myelin Repair Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (17-2011-343).


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 4,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Study to Assess Shorter-Duration Antibiotics in Children
Physicians plan a clinical trial to evaluate whether short course anti-biotics are effective at treating CAP in children.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
First New HIV Vaccine Study for Seven Years Begins
South Africa hosts historic clinical trial of experimental HIV vaccine aiming to safely prevent HIV infection.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Testing Zika Vaccine in Humans Begins
The first of five planned clinical trials to test ZPIV vaccine in humans has begun.
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Skin Patch to Treat Peanut Allergy
NIH-funded study suggests peanut protein patch is a safe and convenient method of treatment.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
NIH Contributes to Global Effort to Prevent and Manage Lung Diseases
The large scale trial will measure health benefits of clean cookstoves.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Scientists at NIH and Emory Achieve Sustained SIV Remission in Monkeys
The finding suggest that the immune systems of these animals are controlling SIV replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Drug to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder Shows Promise Among Drinkers With High Stress
The findings suggest that potential future studies with drugs targeting vasopressin blockade should focus on populations of people with AUD who also report high levels of stress.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Stem Cell Therapy Heals Injured Mouse Brain
A team of researchers has developed a therapeutic technique that dramatically increases the production of nerve cells in mice with stroke-induced brain damage.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Zika Vaccine Testing in Humans
The NAAID has initiated a clinical trail of a vaccine candidate for the prevention of the Zika virus infection.
Thursday, August 04, 2016
NIH Begins Yellow Fever Vaccine Trial
NIH has initiated an early-stage clinical trial of a vaccine to protect against yellow fever.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
NIH-Funded Center to Study Inefficiencies in Clinical Trials
Researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have received a major federal grant to study how multisite clinical trials of new drugs and therapies in children and adults can be conducted more rapidly and efficiently.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
PREVAIL Treatment Trial for Men with Persistent Ebola Viral RNA
The six-month study will enroll 60 to 120 EVD survivors.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Investigational Malaria Vaccine Protects Healthy U.S. Adults
Researchers at NIH have found that the malaria vaccine protected a small number of healthy, malaria-naïve adults in the U.S. from infection for more than one year after immunization.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Study Finds Factors That May Influence Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness
Researchers at NIH have suggested that the long-held approach to predicting seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness may need to be revisited.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Submissions Open for the Cancer Moonshot Program
NCI opens online platform to submit ideas about research for Cancer Moonshot.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Scientific News
Gene Therapy Maintains Clotting Factor for Hemophilia Patients
Following a single gene therapy dose, the highest levels of an essential blood clotting factor IX were observed in hemophilia B patients.
BioCision Forms MedCision
The new company will focus on technologies for the management and automation of vital clinical processes.
First New HIV Vaccine Study for Seven Years Begins
South Africa hosts historic clinical trial of experimental HIV vaccine aiming to safely prevent HIV infection.
Study to Assess Shorter-Duration Antibiotics in Children
Physicians plan a clinical trial to evaluate whether short course anti-biotics are effective at treating CAP in children.
Cancer Gene Predicts Treatment Response in Leukaemia
Study indicates the patients suffering from a lethal for of acute myeloid leukemia may live longer when receiving milder chemotherapy drugs.
Injectable Biologic Therapy Reduces Triglycerides
Study finds first-of-its-kind therapy promising for patients with high triglycerides, cholesterol.
Testing Zika Vaccine in Humans Begins
The first of five planned clinical trials to test ZPIV vaccine in humans has begun.
Combination Therapy Improved Chemoresistance in Ovarian Cancer
The study demonstrates how an existing class of targeted therapies could be used to potentiate the tumor suppression induced by cisplatin.
Gene Therapy for Blistering Skin Disease Shows Promise
Grafting genetically altered skin onto patients’ chronic wounds marks the first time skin-based gene therapy has been demonstrated to be safe and effective in humans.
Alzheimer’s Treatment Moves a Step Closer
Merck scientists have reported the discovery of verubecestat, a structurally unique, orally bioavailable small molecule that has been shown to target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
4,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!