You’ve heard of nanotechnology, but are you familiar with Nanomedicine? Nanomedicine is a fast-developing field, employing new, and newer, technologies to improve the targeted delivery of drugs and the repair of damaged cells. The development of these tiny robots is touching every aspect of medicine.
We are most excited about the application of nanoparticles as a possible treatment for Celiac Disease symptoms.
Cour Pharmaceuticals has recently released data from a new trial on a breakthrough approach to the treatment of Celiac Disease. You can read their press release on nanomedicine for celiac disease here. In brief: the company has recently presented data from successful animal trials, in which their bioengineered nanoparticle was administered intravenously to animals that were first sensitized to gluten then fed a gluten-rich diet. Compared to the no-nano animals, these had lower inflammation and better intestinal biopsies. The animals treated with nanomedicine had comparable or better outcomes than those fed a gluten-free diet.
How does this medicine treat celiac disease? The nanoparticles target a broad set of gliadin proteins found in wheat gluten, the class of antigenic proteins generally accepted as the dominant cause of celiac disease. The nanoparticles themselves are composed of a polymer and antigenic proteins (gliadins) and work by regulating the auto-reactive T-cells that drive the disease. Although the term nanotechnology may bring to mind visions of tiny, tiny robots, the reality is that these miniscule particles will be designed to have very specific functions and will not do any “thinking” of their own.
The possibilities are quite interesting: theoretically if human trials are successful, this treatment for celiac disease would enable celiac sufferers to consume a diet containing gluten. This is different from several other treatments in development, which are supposed to act in conjunction with a gluten-free diet to keep patients safe from accidental wheat, barley, oat or rye contamination.
Interestingly, the nanomedicine pathway also holds a possibility of “curing” celiac disease by reintroducing tolerance to gluten to the immune systems of celiac sufferers. One day, people may be able to undergo a brief treatment regimen of nanotechnology and then soon be “back to normal” — or at least back to eating whatever they want!
Would you allow nanotechnology into your body if it meant you could stop asking questions about how the food was prepared at restaurants? If it meant you could enjoy the gluten-full treats of foreign countries or family recipes that just must include wheat flour? Nanomedicine may seem scary, but the possibilities are also enticing.
The next step for Cour Pharmaceuticals is human clinical trials, and to that end the company is currently researching and fundraising in hopes of organizing the first human trials of nanomedicine for the treatment of celiac disease ever to be held. If you’d like to read more about the science behind this treatment for celiac, you can have a look at their poster from the 16th Annual International Coeliac Disease Symptom.
Updated article on 9/21/21:
The results of a phase 2 clinical trial using nanotechnology by COUR Pharmaceuticals was released to the public in October 2020, showing a new path to induce immune tolerance to gluten. You can read about the study on imaware.
Keep track of new developments with COUR’s CNP-101, a biodegradable nanoparticle encapsulating gliadin protein – the major component of dietary gluten.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect
current information as of September 21, 2021.