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A 24-karat gold key to unlock the immune system
Date:3/26/2012

Developing a drug or vaccine requires a delicate balancing act with the immune system. On one hand, medications need to escape detection by the immune system in order to perform their function. But vaccinations de-activated versions of a disease or virus need to do the reverse. They prompt the immune system to create protective antibodies. But scientists are still stumped by how the immune system recognizes different particles, and how it chooses whether or not to react against them.

Using nanoparticles made of pure gold, Dr. Dan Peer, head of Tel Aviv University's Laboratory of Nanomedicine at the Department of Cell Research and Immunology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, with a team including Drs. Meir Goldsmith and Dalit Landesman-Milo and in collaboration with Prof. Vincent Rotello and Dr. Daniel Moyano from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has developed a new method of introducing chemical residues into the immune system, allowing them to note the properties that incur the wrath of immune cells. Because the gold flecks are too small to be detected by the immune system, the immune system only responds when they are coated with different chemical residues.

This breakthrough could lead to an increased understanding of the properties of viruses and bacteria, better drug delivery systems, and more effective medications and vaccinations. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

A tool for exploration

To begin probing the immune system, researchers used particles of gold, approximately two nanometers in diameter, and covered them with various chemical residues. Only when water-resistant residues were introduced did the immune system respond to their presence. That established a demonstrable link between hydrophobicity the degree to which a molecule repels water and the reaction of the immune system.

This idea has a basis in the normal func
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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