Life-Threatening Allergies Could be Cured with Disguised Nanoparticles

Nanoparticles containing an allergen resets immune system.

A recent study regarding lung allergens has found that hiding the allergen in a biodegradable nanoparticle convinces the immune system not to attack it, preventing an allergic reaction in the airways.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted in mice with technology that is currently progressing to clinical trials for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

The nanoparticles used in this study are composed of a biopolymer called PLGA, which includes lactic acid and glycolic acid.

Researchers administered egg protein into the lungs of mice pretreated to be allergic to it. Once the mice were re-exposed, an asthma-like response was observed.

After being treated with the nanoparticle, there was no allergic response.

Researchers found that once the allergen-loaded nanoparticle is injected into the bloodstream of the mice, the immune system disregards it.

The nanoparticle is then consumed by a macrophage, which can be described as a vacuum-cleaner cell.

"The vacuum-cleaner cell presents the allergen or antigen to the immune system in a way that says, 'No worries, this belongs here,'" researcher Stephen Miller said. The immune system then shuts down its attack on the allergen, and the immune system is reset to normal.

This approach to allergy treatment also increases the number of regulatory T cells and turns off the Th2 T cells that cause the allergy, the study concluded.