Oxidation-sensitive nanomaterials for treatment of immune diseases

Within this is project we aim to develop a range of oxidation-sensitive nanomaterials for the treatment of immune diseases.

We generally consider our immune system as our protector, destroying germs and preventing an infection from killing us. However, when the immune system works incorrectly it can cause diseases itself (autoimmune diseases) including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, as our understanding of immunology has improved we have found that the immune system is involved in many more diseases that previously thought including cancer, stroke and even physical injuries.

Many of these diseases cannot be cured and are chronic and degenerative, with each occurrence of symptoms resulting in further damage. To prevent flare ups and minimise further damage we treat patients continually whether needed or not, often resulting in severe side effects from the drugs. Ideally, a patient would take their medicine each day and it would do nothing unless needed. In the event of disease progression, a drug would be released treating the symptoms and minimising disease progression. At the same a visual signal, e.g. a change in urine colour, would alert the patient to the elevated disease state allowing them to take additional medication or contact a doctor.

Here we aim to develop a range of new materials that can act as carriers for drugs. Under normal, “healthy”, conditions these carriers will circulate for a few hours/days before being excreted harmlessly via urine/faeces. On exposure to the disease environment they will respond by releasing a drug capable of treating the targeted disease.

Specific updates on progress will be added as they become available.

Funding: EPSRC First Grant EP/P027989/1