Using a new, temporary tattoo created with antioxident nanoparticles, scientists may have found a way to alleviate chronic disease symptoms. Those suffering from autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) may benefit from the therapy.

Diseases like MS cause T-lymohocytes (T-cells), a type of white blood cell, to lose their ability to distinguish between invaders and healthy tissue and cause them to attack both. Scientists at found that antioxident carbon nanoparticles, modified with polyethylene glycol may hold the key to cell-targeted therapy, attacking the invaders and not healthy cells.

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Results of the recent study.

Redwan Huq, lead author of the recent study and a graduate student in the Beeton lab at the Baylor College of Medicine at Rice University, says,

The majority of current treatments are general, broad-spectrum immunosuppressants. They’re going to affect all of these cells, but patients are exposed to side effects (ranging) from infections to increased chances of developing cancer. So we get excited when we see something new that could potentially enable selectivity.

multiple sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis

By combining polyethylene glycol with hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCCs) have been proven to remove scavenger reactive oxygen superoxide molecule cells from T-cells without killing the cells. Most of the patient’s existing immune system remains intact.

Baylor scientist Christine Beeton, who led the study, became aware of PEG-HCCs during a presentation by former Baylor graduate student Taeko Inoue, a co-author of the new study. Beeton says,

As she talked, I was thinking, “That has to work in models of multiple sclerosis.” I didn’t have a good scientific rationale but I asked for a small sample of PEG-HCCs to see if they affected immune cells. We found that they affected the T-lymphocytes and not the other splenic immune cells, like macrophages. It was completely unexpected.

The Beeton lab tested on animal models and the results revealed that small amounts of PGG-HCCs injected under the skin are slowly taken up by T-cells, where they collect and inhibit the cell’s function. The nanoparticles didn’t remain in the T-cells but dispersed after uptake by the cells.

Beeton explains,

That’s an issue because you want a drug that’s in the system long enough to be effective, but not so long that, if you have a problem, you cannot remove it. PEG-HCCs can be administered for slow release and don’t stay in the system for long. This gives us much better control over the circulating half-life.

Placed just under the skin, the carbon-based particles form a dark spot that fades over about one week as they are slowly released into circulation. We saw it made a bk mark when we injected it, and at first we thought that’s going to be a real problem if we ever take it into the clinic. But we can work around that. We can inject an area that’s hidden, or use micropattern needles and shape it. I can see doing this for a child who wants a tattoo and could never get her parents to go along. This will be a good way to convince them.

Nancy Loyan Schuemann

Nancy Loyan Schuemann is a writer specializing in architecture, safes, profiles, histories and a multi-published fiction and non-fiction author and is Nailah, Middle Eastern dancer.

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