Expansion of antigen-specific regulatory networks for the treatment of CNS autoimmunity

Principal Investigator: Dr. Pere Santamaria

Affiliation: University of Calgary

Term: April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2019

Funding: $342,300

Keywords: nanomedicine, nanoparticles, remyelination, immunoregulatory networks

Summary:

  • Vaccines work to expand the number of white blood cells to protect against viruses, bacteria or cancer. Vaccines can also potentially be developed to delete white blood cells causing disease like multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Whether the use of a novel technology, called nanotechnology, can be used to generate a vaccine that selectively targets harmful white blood cells and can be effective in improving MS is unknown.
  • The research team will:
    • Test a new type of ‘vaccine’ that was recently developed by the lab using nanomedicine technology to selectively put the brakes on disease-causing immune cells while increasing the activity of helpful immune responses in mice.

Project Description:
Vaccines commonly work by enabling the body to produce white blood cells that protect the body against viruses, bacteria or cancer. Interestingly, they can also be used to selectively delete white blood cells that cause diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes and others. The Santamaria lab has developed a new type of “vaccine” using nanomedicine technology. This type of technology uses cells at the minuscule scale to dampen the response of the harmful immune cells while increasing the activity of helpful ones. These nanomedicines can blunt autoimmune responses without causing suppression of the immune system, a long sought-after goal. In this proposal, Dr. Santamaria is dissecting, in detail, the origin, mechanism, and downstream molecules of cells that are targeted by the nanomedicine technology. To date, the research team has developed the nanomedicines necessary for disease suppression as well as established the lines of genetically modified mice with the key molecules known to impact MS.

Potential Impact: Understanding the precise mechanisms of action, including the cells and molecules responsible for therapeutic activity will be key for future clinical translation of this novel class of drugs.

Project Status: In Progress

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