An improper immune response towards a self-antigen can result in an autoimmune
disease. Commonly these diseases are treated with therapies that suppress overall immune
responses, which can lead to increased risk of infection and cancer. A more specific
method would be to induce immune tolerance in an antigen specific manner. This is much
like traditional vaccines that have antigen specificity towards the pathogen they are forming
protection. This antigen specific protection is called immune tolerance and has been accomplished
by introducing soluble antigen to mucosal routes (e.g. oral, nasal or sublingual). Unfortunately, this
approach has shown limited success clinically. Nano and microparticles (MPs) have recently been applied as
delivery vehicles to help improve efficacy in immune tolerance. MPs can increase the solubility and circulation
of cargo and passively target macrophages and dendritic cells. Fabrication of MPs with diseaseassociated
antigens has limited disease progression in animal models of Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes,
and Rheumatoid Arthritis, which has corresponded to an antigen specific decrease in inflammatory responses.
The use of MPs to induce antigen specific tolerance can limit the current therapeutic shortfalls such as adverse
drug side effects and blanket suppression of the immune system, which can lead to an overall significant increase
in patient quality of life.
Keywords: Immunology, multiple sclerosis, polymers, regulatory T cells, rheumatoid arthritis, tolerance,
type 1 diabetes, vaccine.
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