With funding from the Lupus Research Institute (LRI), researchers at Yale University have developed ‘magic bullet’ capsules that deliver tiny doses of drugs directly to immune-system cells. This specificity helps sidestep the toxic side-effects of drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Dr. Tarek Fahmy and a multidisciplinary team that included rheumatologist Dr. Joe Craft designed capsules called nanogels that can be filled with different drugs and programmed to reach specific cells.
Mice with lupus treated with nanogels loaded with a conventional immunosuppressant drug had less severe disease compared with untreated mice and were protected from kidney damage, one of the most severe complications of lupus. Nanogels also showed no toxic side effects.
Able to target immune cells, nanogels have potential to be used for a broad range of immunological conditions including autoimmune diseases, transplant rejection, and cancers of the immune system. As reported here by Yale University, these dramatic results were published online March 1 in the leading biomedical publication Journal of Clinical Investigation.
“We congratulate Dr. Fahmy and his team on these exciting findings,” commented Margaret Dowd, President and CEO, Lupus Research Institute. “He came to us with a highly innovative approach to designing a new drug delivery system to target disease-causing cells. Like most LRI-funded Novel Research Grants, Dr. Fahmy’s work is opening the door to major advances in treatment for lupus with broader implications for other autoimmune diseases.”
A Nano Solution with Huge Potential
“Nanoparticles for therapy are not uncommon in cancer, but this specific formulation is well-suited for delivering combinations of agents to sites of inflammation and stimulating the immune system,” said Dr. Fahmy. “The results are particularly intriguing because the use of nanotechnology in autoimmune diseases is new and showing real promise. Our work exemplifies how the Lupus Research Institute’s belief in innovation sparks discovery with far-reaching implications for lupus and beyond.”