A sneaky way to treat allergies using nanoparticles


Credit: Pixabay

“It’s a universal treatment,” claims Dr Miller, senior author and the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Depending on what allergy you want to eliminate, you can load up the nanoparticle with ragweed pollen or a peanut protein.”

Allergic diseases are on the rise across the globe, and affect adults and children indiscriminately. An allergic disease, or allergy occurs when the body’s immune system identifies something seemingly harmless, such as food, drug or pollen, as a threat and sets in motion a much exaggerated inflammatory response.

Researchers at the Northwestern University in Chicago, United states have come up with a potential way to slip antigens into the body without all the vicious symptomatic drama. The antigens are encapsulated within biodegradable nanoparticles and injected into the bloodstream. At first glance, the immune only recognizes the polymer surface, which it merely regards as innocuous debris.

The biopolymer continues to keep the antigen masked under its surface and only reveals what is hidden within when it is a consumed by a macrophage. By then, however, the macrophage presents the inflammatory-triggering antigen to the immune system as something that belongs in the body. There is no resulting attack on the antigen and the immune system resets to normal.

In the current study, the authors injected FDA-approved biodegradable nanoparticles into mouse models to treat an allergic reaction to egg white. After experimenting with a few variations of nanoparticle formulations, the authors found the best response when the antigen was encapsulated within the biopolymer – the formulation was well tolerated by the mice, there were no adverse reactions; and, it effectively inhibited T helper 2 (Th2) cells (the over activation of which causes allergies) and airway inflammation both prophylactically and therapeutically.

Source: Smarr C, Yap W, Neef T, Pearson R, Hunter Z, Ifergan H. Biodegradable antigen-associated PLG nanoparticles tolerize Th2-mediated allergic airway inflammation pre- and postsensitization. PNAS, 2016.

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