Northwestern Medicine research shows a new approach to asthma treatment where a nanoparticle acts like a Trojan horse to convince the immune system not to attack it.
“The findings represent a novel, safe and effective long-term way to treat and potentially ‘cure’ patients with life-threatening respiratory and food allergies,” said senior author Stephen Miller, the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This may eliminate the need for life-long use of medications to treat lung allergy.”
It’s the first time this method for creating tolerance in the immune system has been used in allergic diseases. The approach has been used in autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis and celiac disease in previous preclinical Northwestern research.
The asthma allergy study was in mice, but the technology is progressing to clinical trials in autoimmune disease. The nanoparticle technology is being developed commercially by Cour Pharmaceuticals Development Co, which is working with Miller to bring this new approach to patients. A clinical trial using the nanoparticles to treat celiac disease is in development.
The paper was published April 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“It’s a universal treatment,” Miller said. “Depending on what allergy you want to eliminate, you can load up the nanoparticle with ragweed pollen or a peanut protein.”