A surprise finding suggests that an injection of nanoparticles may be able to help fight the immune system when it goes haywire, researchers at the University of Michigan have shown (ACS Nano, “Neutrophil-particle interactions in blood circulation drive particle clearance and alter neutrophil responses in acute inflammation”). The nanoparticles divert immune cells that cause inflammation away from an injury site.
Inflammation is a double-edged sword. When it works, it helps the body heal and fights off infections. But sometimes, the immune system overreacts. An acute lung injury, sustained by inhaling smoke, for instance, can lead to runaway fluid production that essentially drowns a person.
Now, experiments in mice suggest that simple plastic nanoparticles, delivered by IV, may be able to keep a type of immune cell – called a neutrophil – too busy to cause inflammation. Other diseases in which neutrophils cause excessive inflammation include sepsis and the hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.