Within a few hours of injecting empty-handed DNA nanoparticles, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers were surprised to see increased expression of an enzyme that calms the immune response.
In an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis, the enhanced expression of indoleomine 2,3 dioxygenase, or IDO, significantly reduced the hallmark limb joint swelling and inflammation of this debilitating autoimmune disease, researchers report in the study featured on the cover of The Journal of Immunology.
"It's like pouring water on a fire," said Dr. Andrew L. Mellor, Director of the GHSU's Medical College of Georgia Immunotherapy Center and the study's corresponding author. "The fire is burning down the house, which in this case is the tissue normally required for your joints to work smoothly," Mellor said of the immune system's inexplicable attack on bone-cushioning cartilage. "When IDO levels are high, there is more water to control the fire."
Several delivery systems are used for gene therapy, which is used to treat conditions including cancer, HIV infection and Parkinson's disease. The new findings suggest the DNA nanoparticle technique has value as well for autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, type 1 diabetes and lupus. "We want to induce IDO because it protects healthy tissue from destruction by the immune system," Mellor said.
The researchers were exploring IDO's autoimmune treatment potential by inserting the human IDO gene into DNA nanoparticles. They hoped to enhance IDO expression in their arthritis model when Dr. Lei Huang, Assistant Research Scientist and the paper's first author, serendipitously found that the DNA nanoparticle itself produced the desired result. Exactly how and why is still being pursued. Early evidence suggests that immune cells called phagocytes, white blood cells that gobble up undesirables like bacteria and dying cells, start making more IDO in response to the DNA nanoparticle's arrival. "Phagocytes eat it and respond quickly to it and the effect we measure is IDO," Mellor said.
Dr. Tracy L. McGaha, GHSU immunologist and a co-author on the current study, recently discovered that similar cells also prevented development of systemic lupus erythematosus in mice.
Follow-up studies include documenting all cells that respond by producing more IDO. GHSU researchers already are working with biopolymer experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkeley and the Georgia Institute of Technology to identify the optimal polymer.
The polymer used in the study is not biodegradable so the researchers need one that will eventually safely degrade in the body. Ideally, they'd also like it to target specific cells, such as those near inflamed joints, to minimize any potential ill effects.
"It's like a bead and you wrap the DNA around it," Mellor said of the polymer. While the DNA does not have to carry anything to get the desired response in this case, DNA itself is essential to make cells express IDO. To ensure that IDO expression was responsible for the improvements, they also performed experiments in mice given an IDO inhibitor in their drinking water and in mice genetically altered to not express IDO. "Without access to the IDO pathway, the therapy no longer works," Mellor said.
Drs. Andrew Mellor and David Munn reported in 1998 in the journal Science that the fetus expresses IDO to help avoid rejection by the mother's immune system. Subsequent studies have shown tumors also use IDO for protection and clinical trials are studying the tumor-fighting potential of an IDO inhibitor. On the flip side, there is evidence that increasing IDO expression can protect transplanted organs and counter autoimmune disease.
Mellor is the Bradley-Turner and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular Immunogenetics at MCG. The research was funded by the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust and the National Institutes of Health and a patent is pending on the findings.
Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering