Someday in the future, we may see treatments or even cures for autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, thanks to the pioneering work of people like Dr. Pere Santamaria of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.
This potential treatment makes use of nanomedicine, and more specifically, nanoparticles that could work to stop the immune system from attacking the body.
As it is, current therapies for inflammatory disorders often involve impairing the immune system…which may help treat the disease, sure, but can obviously do harm, as the immune system is hampered from carrying out perfectly normal and healthy functions. This kind of treatment can then lead to long-term complications and negative effects.
The nanomedicine that Dr. Santamaria and his pharmaceutical company, Parvus Therapeutics (along with an outside pharmaceutical company, Novartis), is working on, however, would be different. It would treat the various disorders without inhibiting the entire immune system.
“So we can reset the immune system to its steady state—that means the healthy state—without impairing the ability of our immune system to protect us against infections and cancer,” Santamaria said.
When could these drugs become available? That’s a difficult question to answer, as nanomedicine is a brand new field, and Santamaria and his team are basically creating “a new class of drug.” Additionally, the drugs being developed by Santamaria and his team haven’t gone through preclinical trials yet.
Still, the development is exciting, and Santamaria hopes he can at least set an example for future researchers.
“We hope that we can carry that torch and be an example for all the investigators that might follow suit, that may run into discoveries such as the ones that we’ve made … and hopefully they can follow in our footsteps,” he said.
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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.