Tattoo therapy may help control chronic diseases

24 September 2016

A temporary tattoo might some day be used to control a chronic disease, according to scientists at Baylor College of Medicine who tested antioxidant nanoparticles created at Rice University.

Nature's online, open-access journal today published a study led by Baylor scientist Christine Beeton that showed that nanoparticles modified with polyethylene glycol were conveniently choosy as they were taken up by cells in the immune system.

That could work to the benefit of patients with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, one focus of study at the Beeton lab. ''Placed just under the skin, the carbon-based particles form a dark spot that fades over about one week as they are slowly released into the circulation,'' quoted Beeton.

''The majority of current treatments are general, broad-spectrum immunosuppressants,'' said Redwan Huq, lead author of the study and a graduate student in the Beeton lab. ''They're going to affect all of these cells, but patients are exposed to side effects (ranging) from infections to increased chances of developing cancer. So we get excited when we see something new that could potentially enable selectivity.''

He added, since the macrophages and other splenic immune cells remained unaffected, most of a patient's existing immune system remained intact.

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