I wonder if this could be used for organ transplants, too.
No way if you're talking about a transplant from any Tom, Dick or Harry. They would be foreign bodies in the biologic sense of the term. You have to prevent graft versus host disease and host versus graft disease. Unless it is an identical antigenic match, the immunosuppresion required can leave anyone vulnerable to otherwise harmless microbes like AIDS patients.
This story is about turning off an animal's autoimmune attack upon itself using antigens from myelin, the latter being the substance of what gives that color to vertebrates' central nervous system "white matter."
Here's the meat of the press relelease:
In the study, researchers attached myelin antigens to the nanoparticles and injected them intravenously into the mice. The particles entered the spleen, which filters the blood and helps the body dispose of aging and dying blood cells. There, the particles were engulfed by macrophages, a type of immune cell, which then displayed the antigens on their cell surface. The immune system viewed the nanoparticles as ordinary dying blood cells and nothing to be concerned about. This created immune tolerance to the antigen by directly inhibiting the activity of myelin responsive T cells and by increasing the numbers of regulatory T cells which further calmed the autoimmune response.
"The key here is that this antigen/particle-based approach to induction of tolerance is selective and targeted. Unlike generalized immunosuppression, which is the current therapy used for autoimmune diseases, this new process does not shut down the whole immune system," said Christine Kelley...
FReepmail me if you want on or off the diabetes ping list.
If this pans out in humans for MS, it could work for type 1 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults among other autoimmune diseases.
P.S. There's no mystery about these nano/microparticles. It's just polymer chemistry with the normal products of mammalian metabolism.