Better and more affordable treatments for sufferers of autoimmune diseases

(Medical Xpress) -- From Addison’s disease to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease to Multiple Sclerosis — the list of crippling autoimmune diseases is long and they affect millions of people world-wide. But supplies of the plasma-based treatment that has become a lifeline for sufferers are limited because it is very expensive and difficult to make.

Many immune-deficient patients are dependent on the clinically approved plasma protein replacement therapy — Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy (IVIG). Seventy per cent of the global supply of IVIG is used to treat autoimmune disease, but this treatment requires thousands of carefully screened donors.

Now experts in the School of Biology at The University of Nottingham have developed a synthetic replacement for the effective part of the antibody — the Fc — which is responsible for dampening the inflammation seen in autoimmune disease. The results of this research, which could lead to a new form of treatment for autoimmune disease, have been published online in the new academic journal Scientific Reports.

Professor Richard Pleass and Professor Mike Doenhoff led the study by the Institute of Genetics in the School of Biology at The University of Nottingham. Professor Pleass said: “The trick that makes these reagents better at potentially curing autoimmune disease is the fact that they are polymeric - made of a repeating unit of proteins.  This makes them much better at suppressing the pro-inflammatory processes involved in causing autoimmune disease than the single molecule antibodies contained in IVIG.”

Existing IVIG products are used every day with great efficacy in treating such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) in children. However, to produce IVIG every single one of the 3,000 donors has to be screened for infectious disease and degenerative disorders and the process of purifying antibodies from these individuals is very costly. To be effective IVIG also needs to be used in high doses since only one per cent of the injected IVIG is suppressive in people. This is because these antibodies are single proteins which have only a mild effect on the inhibitory receptors responsible for switching off inflammation.

The newly described process of synthesising Fc should help overcome these problems.

The research was carried out by Professor Pleass, Professor Doenhoff and their students in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the University of Oslo and the University of Alexandria.

More information: A copy of their paper can be found at: www.nature.com/srep/2011/11101… /full/srep00124.html

Related Stories

Immunotherapy linked to lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

Jul 20, 2009

IVIg treatments, the addition of good antibodies into the blood stream, may hold promise for lowering the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other similar brain disorders, according to research published in the July 21, 2009, ...

Costly treatment 'ineffective for babies'

Sep 30, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A worldwide study involving University of Sydney researchers has concluded that a costly and controversial treatment for neonatal sepsis is ineffective.

Recommended for you

Cooling of dialysis fluids protects against brain damage

10 hours ago

While dialysis can cause blood pressure changes that damage the brain, cooling dialysis fluids can protect against such effects. The findings come from a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American So ...

Two Ebola vaccines to be tested in Switzerland

11 hours ago

Clinical trials of two experimental vaccines against the deadly Ebola virus are due to begin soon in Switzerland, the country's Tropical and Public Health Institute said on Thursday.

Legionnaire's disease kills four in Spain

15 hours ago

Four people have died from an outbreak of the lung infection Legionnaire's disease in northeastern Spain, regional health authorities said Thursday.

User comments