Better and more affordable treatments for sufferers of autoimmune diseases

December 13, 2011

(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.

Explore further: Costly treatment 'ineffective for babies'

More information: A copy of their paper can be found at:

Related Stories

Costly treatment 'ineffective for babies'

September 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

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.