Nanoparticles that teach immune cells tolerance could treat diabetes | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 26 | p. 8 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 27, 2016

Nanoparticles that teach immune cells tolerance could treat diabetes

Gold particles help reprogram the immune system to stop attacking insulin-producing cells
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Materials SCENE, Nano SCENE
Keywords: nanomedicines, diabetes, insulin, autoimmune disease
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To produce stable nanoparticles, researchers added a polyethylene glycol (PEG) coating to gold nanoparticles decorated with insulin and ITE.
Credit: Sci. Signaling
Illustration of gold nanoparticles used to reprogram immune cells in type 1 diabetes.
 
To produce stable nanoparticles, researchers added a polyethylene glycol (PEG) coating to gold nanoparticles decorated with insulin and ITE.
Credit: Sci. Signaling

People with type 1 diabetes struggle to produce insulin because their immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that make the sugar-regulating hormone. A team of researchers has designed functionalized nanoparticles that can reprogram immune cells in diabetic mice to stop assaulting the insulin-producing cells (Sci. Signaling 2016, DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad0612). To reestablish what’s called immune tolerance for pancreatic cells, Francisco J. Quintana of Harvard Medical School and coworkers decorated gold nanoparticles with two molecules: insulin and 2-(1´-H-indole-3´-carbonyl)-thiazole-4-carboxylic acid methyl ester (ITE). Once immune cells called dendritic cells take up the nanoparticles, ITE activates a transcription factor that turns on pathways involved in releasing signaling molecules directed at T cells. These molecules stop damage-inducing inflammation by telling T cells to stand down. The insulin molecules carried by the gold particles help target the dendritic cells’ message toward T cells attacking pancreatic cells. When the team injected the nanoparticles into mice that can develop type 1 diabetes spontaneously, about 25% of the animals became diabetic. For untreated mice, the incidence was about 75%. Quintana thinks similar particles could be designed for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

 
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