08:54pm Monday 18 December 2017

Better and more affordable treatments for sufferers of autoimmune diseases

autoimmunitypleasspr

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 autoimmune diseases 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.

A copy of their paper can be found at: www.nature.com/srep/2011/111019/srep00124/full/srep00124.html

Professor Pleass is now at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Professor Doenhoff is now an Emeritus University Teacher in the School of Biology.

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Notes to editors:  The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK’s Top 10 and the World’s Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia. Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. For more details, visit: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/impactcampaign.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Mike Doenhoff, on +44 (0)115 951 3304, mike.doenhoff@nottingham.ac.uk; or Professor Richard Pleass, on +44 (0)151 7053315, richard.pleass@liverpool.ac.uk

Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke – Media Relations Manager

Email: lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: King’s Meadow Campus


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