At least its not leeches

17 10 2008

Adverse immune reactions are a serious issue in modern medicine. Not just for transplants, but for ultra-modern molecular therapies – such as enzyme replacement therapy, or genetic therapy – making sure your body does not decide to destroy that expensive medicine can be an issue. Sometime this means giving patients immunosuppressants, drugs that turn off the immune system. This is obviously risky, leaving such patients open to infection and cancer development.

Parasites and other wee beasties have evolved very complex mechanisms to evade our immune systems. So looking at them for clues on how to develop better drug delivery systems is a good idea. Some researchers are looking at promising chemical produced by schistosome eggs that may benefit gene therapy. Schistosomes cause schistosomosis which ranks no. 2, behind malaria, as the parasite-caused disease with most global impact.

This molecule goes into the cells nucleus and binds to DNA, making sure the therapeutic genes get to where they are meant to rather than just floating around in your bloodstream. This may prove less risky than using viral vectors.

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