Scaling up a nanoimmunotherapy for atherosclerosis through preclinical testing

By integrating translational imaging techniques with improvements to production methods, Tina Binderup and colleagues have scaled up a promising nanoimmunotherapy for atherosclerosis in mice, rabbits and pigs – surmounting a major obstacle in nanomedicine. Their study brings the anti-inflammatory treatment for one of the most common chronic conditions worldwide closer to application in humans and identifies strategies for overcoming challenges in translating nanoimmunotherapies from small animal models to the clinic. Nanomedicine – the use of nanotechnology and nanomaterials to treat disease – has become a major field of interest, and hundreds of new nanoformulations are being developed every year. However, most nanomedicine research is limited to proof-of-concept studies in mice, and challenges in producing enough nanomaterials have hampered larger animal testing and the approval of practical and effective drugs for humans. In a previous study, the researchers created a nanotherapeutic called S-HDL that reduced inflammation in blood vessels in mouse models of atherosclerosis. Here, they tested a new production method for S-HDL based on devices named microfluidizers, which boosted production rates of the therapeutic by up to 80-fold compared to older methods. The authors used PET and MRI imaging to visualize how the new S-HDL formulation performed in rabbits and a pig model of atherosclerosis and found two weeks of the treatment halted the accumulation of plaque and curtailed vessel wall inflammation in the animals without causing toxicity. Binderup et al. say their new workflow and use of noninvasive imaging could allow researchers to gather meaningful results even when restricted to using small groups of larger animals.


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