Dr. Tarek Fahmy was delighted to learn of the upcoming Congressional hearing looking at the potential uses for nanotechnology with good reason – he has been working on its use in lupus treatment with the Novel Research Grant he received from the LRI. His LRI-funded study showed that encapsulating nanoparticles of a frequently used drug Mycophenolic acid achieved greater efficacy with less drug than with the free drug alone.
What are Nanoparticles?
Dr. Fahmy and colleagues had a highly novel idea on how to design nanoparticles—tiny “magic bullets” about the size of a virus—to target and deliver drugs to the disease-causing cells that foment inflammation in lupus. He and his team designed nano-scale capsules composed of a gel core that can be filled with different drugs with a timed release formula. Targeting immune cells, they have potential to be used for a broad range of immunological conditions including autoimmune diseases, transplant rejection, and cancers of the immune system. Results were published in 2013 in the highly prestigious publication, Journal of Clinical Investigation.
How is this Congressional Hearing Relevant to People with Lupus?
“I think it is tremendous that this subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives is exploring the topic of nanotech and potential policy that will hopefully empower its development,” said Dr. Fahmy. “The LRI is doing fantastic work funding ground breaking research in this area; however, the other significant side of this effort focusing on bringing the fruit of that labor to the public is yet to be realized.”
“Nanotechnology is quickly approaching that breakthrough threshold for alternative, more effective treatment of disease. Its promise is gaining much momentum for cancer therapy, but its potential for treating autoimmunity and especially Lupus is yet to be realized despite the fantastic new research done on that front. With this momentum little has been done to explore the regulatory and commercial pathway of this promising new technology and so I am optimistic that more will be done along those lines in the near term. For that reason, I am excited about this hearing and hope it begins the discussion towards a clear roadway of regulation and commercialization that will feedback into laboratories exploring the use of the technology and research design enabling quicker translation and sooner benefits to people who desperately need solutions for complex diseases.”