Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord or more precisely the central nervous system. 2.3 million people are affected by this disease.
In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the protective sheath – myelin; thus, it disables parts of the nervous system to communicate.
Therefore, some communication problems occur between the brain and the body.
In due course, this disease makes the nerves progressively worse, and it even damages them for a lifetime. At the time, there is no remedy for MS, but Dr Su Metcalfe and her company – LIFNano believe they can change that.
In view of the fact that there is no medicine for autoimmune-like disease, doctors treat the patients with MS with pharmaceuticals intended to suppress their immune system. Dr Su hopes to find a solution soon because all these medicaments have many side effects.
The Potential Cure
Subsequent to her discovery of a small binary switch that has control in the immune cells, Dr Su tries to develop her theory that using a stem cell particle called a LIF would switch off the body’s auto-immune cells and help repair the brain.
These LIF stem-cell particles protect the brain and the spinal cord; they also help in restoring the brain tissue. It is worth to be mentioned that these LIF stem-cell particles are part of regenerative medicine.
Su regards her approach as a “double whammy”. She is trying to discover a treatment which can alter the autoimmunity and fix up the brain injury.
Unfortunately, she encountered an unexpected drawback; she discovered that LIF could live only for 20-minutes before the body breaks it down. Therefore, the body cannot feel the benefits of it. In order for this to be fixed, the technology of nanoparticles was used.
The Role of Nanoparticles
When you mix LIF and nanoparticles, you get a perfect mixture which is consistent with the body. The role of the nanoparticles is to deliver and administer the LIF for a period of five days.
As stated by Su “the nanoparticle itself is a protective environment, and the enzymes that break it down can’t access it. You can also decorate the surface of the particles with antibodies, so it becomes a homing device that can target specific parts of the brain. So you get the right dose, in the right place, and at the right time.”
Yale University is the place where the particles were developed, but Su’s company, LIFNano, is legally allowed to utilise them and Su thinks that we are on the edge of producing something like nothing created before.
How Nano-Medicine is Helping
Su explains: “Nano-medicine is a new era, and big pharma has already entered this space to deliver drugs while trying to avoid the side effects. The quantum leap is to go into biologics and tap into the natural pathways of the body.
“We’re not using any drugs, we’re simply switching on the body’s own systems of self-tolerance and repair. There aren’t any side effects because all we’re doing is tipping the balance.
Auto-immunity happens when that balance has gone awry slightly, and we simply reset that. Once you’ve done that, it becomes self-sustaining and you don’t have to keep giving therapy, because the body has its balance back.”
Owing to the fact that LIFNano has discovered more than ever before, the drug firm Merck and the Government’s Innovate UK agency provide finance for it. Dr Su believes she will have more investors so she can start with her clinical trials in 2020.
“We’ve got everything we need in place to make the nanoparticles in a clinically compliant manner, it’s just a case of flicking the switch when we have the money.
We’re looking at VCs and big pharma because they have a strong interest in this area. We’re doing all our pre-clinical work concurrently while bringing in the major funds the company needs to go forward in its own right.”
Immune cells play a significant role in Dr Su’s career; thus, her strong feelings and beliefs on the subject, “The immune cell is the only single cell in the body that is its own unity, so it functions alone. It’s probably one of the most powerful cells in the body because it can kill you, and if you haven’t got it you die because you haven’t got it.”
Currently, her centre of interest is MS, but she says that this will “lead into other major autoimmune disease areas.”
I believe we all cannot wait to see what the future will be like with Dr Su’s works with LIFNano. According to her, “Psoriasis is high up on our list, and diabetes is another. Downstream from there are all the dementias since LIF is a major health factor for the brain – if we can get it into the brain we can start protecting against dementia.”
We can agree that Su’s research is outstanding and stimulating. In this link, you can follow LIFNano’s progress and research.