Nanotechnology involves  manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. This means at  least one dimension of the molecule or structure sized from 1 to 500 nanometres. (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter)

It is not the first time that Nanotechnology concepts have been used to attack the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) disease, we have published in September 2011 a post on delivering MS drugs through the Blood Brain Barrier [1]. For example a virus,the cow pea mosaic virus (CPMV),has recently been explored as a nanoparticle delivery system for therapeutics.


A nanoparticle filled with a chemotherapy drug (MIT) Image / Nicolle Rager Fuller, Sayo-Art

So what is new about the press release for Northwestern University about the research  by Dr Stephen miller et al., claim to have stopped a Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) model in rats (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis)

Quoting sciencedaily:

“…Miller said. “We prevented any future relapses for up to 100 days, which is the equivalent of several years in the life of an MS patient

That is pretty good, but what is so new about the technology?

  • The nanoparticles are made of a polymer called Poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG), which consists of lactic acid and glycolic acid, both natural metabolites in the human body. [4]
  • Researchers attached myelin antigens [markers for immune attack]  to the nanoparticles, to be injected by intravenous infusion [5]
  • The particles enter the spleen, which disposes of  body cells scheduled to die (apostosis).The myelin antigens are then engulfed by specialized macrophages [literally cell ingesters]. At that point the myelin antigens became part of the normal apostosis [planned body cell destruction] process 
  • “…The immune system viewed the nanoparticles as ordinary dying blood cells and nothing to be concerned about…” End of autoimmune attack


antigen presenting cell (Wikipedia Commons)

Sounds complex? It is!

  • You have to have the technology to attach antigens to nanoparticles
  • You have to have the right nanoparticle that will attach the antigen to macrophage cells in the spleen
So far that study was done on mice,  the clinical cal trials will take time. The technology is also explored to help other autoimmune related diseases as well as asthma.


  1. medinewsdigest ; “Multiple sclerosis: Research Progress on Drug Delivery Across the Blood Brain Barrier” ; Sep 2011
  2. WebMD ;  “Nanoparticles Show Potential for Treating MS” ; Nov 2012
  3. JCI ; “Reactivity to myelin antigens in multiple sclerosis. Peripheral blood lymphocytes respond predominantly to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein.”; Dec 1993
  5. Nature biotech. ; “Microparticles bearing encephalitogenic peptides induce T-cell tolerance and ameliorate experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis” ; Nov 2012

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