The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing a drug-delivery system, including nanoparrticle-coupled regulatory T-cells, for prevention and treatment of Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. The system also has potential to deliver treatments for graft- versus-host disease and transplant rejection. Typically resulting from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, autoimmune diseases cause the body to attack its own cells, tissues and organs. In the United States, 14 million to 24 million people, about 8 percent of the population, have autoimmune diseases. More than 25 million Americans have diabetes, a lifelong and chronic disease in which the body cannot process sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association. In 2007, the total cost of diabetes in the U.S. was approximately $218 billion, with approximately 10 percent of that resulting from Type 1 diabetes. Thirty years ago, virtually all drugs utilized in the practice of medicine were small molecules by their design. However, the last two decades witnessed the introduction of a new class of agents, protein therapeutics, into the health-care delivery system, which revolutionized treatment of a diverse array of illnesses. Medical science is poised for the next such therapeutic revolution: The introduction of cell therapy, a transformative approach that addresses an unmet need. At the nexus of this shift resides a unique white blood cell known as the CD4+ T cell, and among this highly selected population, a sub-component known as regulatory T cells, or Tregs. The key function of Tregs is to suppress reactivity of other cells in the immune system to self-proteins or transplanted tissues. Researchers from the University of Florida have harnessed the therapeutic potential of Tregs through conjugation of these cells to a nanoparticle-based drug-delivery system. This approach is founded on the use of biodegradable biomaterials that provide targeted, controlled co-delivery of antigen and immuno-modulatory factors in the context of Treg cell therapy.
A combinatorial cellular therapy and drug-delivery system for the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, allergies and transplantation
- Prevents the onset of autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, saving time and costly medical expenses
- Reduces adverse reactions, allowing for improved patient outcomes
- Is a timed-release vaccine, providing a competitive advantage
- Treats autoimmunity, allergies, and transplantation, allowing for multiple market opportunities
The drug-delivery system consists of an injectable cellular therapy with conjugated biodegradable nanoparticles which provide localized, controlled release of immunomodulatory factors. The system can deliver various antigens and factors in a modular therapeutic platform. This system may also be useful in the treatment of other autoimmune diseases, allergies and transplantation.