A new gonorrhea treatment, based on an anti-cancer therapy developed by a
More than 100 million new gonococcal infections occur each year around the globe, according to the
"We developed the concept that gonococcal infection seems to inhibit specific adaptive immune responses, which is, in part, why people can become infected with it multiple times," explains
In considering how to modify the immune response to gonococcal infection, Russell became intrigued with an anti-cancer therapy being developed by a UB medical school colleague.
"We had the idea that maybe these IL-12 microspheres that they were developing against tumors could be used to generate an immune response against gonococcal infection as well," says Russell. "This research proves that they can."
The current study describes how the IL-12 microspheres, administered intravaginally in mice, resulted in the development of a specific adaptive immune response -- development of antibodies specific to N. gonorrhoeae -- and clearance of the infection within days. One month later, attempts to reinfect these mice with the bacterium failed, demonstrating that the animals had retained the ability to fight reinfection.
"With this treatment, we have reversed the immunosuppression that gonococcal infection normally causes and allowed an effective immune response to develop," says Russell. "It could be argued that when the IL-12 microspheres are administered this way, they serve as an adjuvant that, in effect, converts the gonococcal infection into a live vaccine, thus essentially vaccinating the very population that is at risk for repeat infections."
And because it may circumvent the growing resistance of this bacterium and others to antibiotics, this treatment method also may open up new approaches for the development of non-resistant treatments for other infectious diseases, Russell says.
"Here, we are delivering cytokines locally right to the site of infection," he says. "If we can use this method to teach the immune system to generate the right kind of response to other recalcitrant infections, then we could have a new approach to treat a range of infectious diseases without stimulating drug resistance."
The immunity developed in the mice lasted for one month. Russell plans to see if the immunity can last longer in mice and then ultimately, to test it in humans.
The first author on the paper is
The work was funded by the
TNS 30TagarumaMar-130918-4490319 30TagarumaMar
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