Reprogramming Autoimmune Disease

Greater understanding of the immune system means a greater ability to reprogram its components - such as errant immune cells that cause autoimmune diseases. From EurekAlert!: a study "describes a unique therapeutic 'nanovaccine' that successfully reverses [type 1] diabetes (T1D) in a mouse model of the disease. In addition to providing new insight into diabetes, the research also reveals an aspect of the pathogenesis of the autoimmune response that may provide a therapeutic strategy for multiple autoimmune disorders. ... [Researchers] wanted to find a way to counteract the harmful autoimmune response without compromising general immunity. They discovered that our bodies have a built-in mechanism that tries to stop the progression of autoimmune diseases like T1D. Essentially, there is an internal tug-of-war between aggressive T-cells that want to cause the disease and weaker T cells that want to stop it from occurring ... The researchers also developed [a] nanotechnology-based 'vaccine' that selectively boosted the weak white blood T cells, enabling them to effectively counter the damage caused by their overactive T cell relatives. ... their nanovaccine blunted T1D progression in prediabetic mice and restored normal blood sugar in diabetic mice. ... If the paradigm on which this nanovaccine is based holds true in other chronic autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and others, [nanovaccines] might find general applicability in autoimmunity."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-04/cp-ra040510.php

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