Luna awarded NIH grant for fullerene-based nanomedicines as allergy treatments

Luna Innovations Incorporated has announced the award of a $1.6 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate the use of fullerene-based nanomedicines as a pathway to treat allergies and other inflammatory diseases.

This novel research program may offer a new therapeutic solution using fullerene compounds for treating allergies and other conditions that play a central role in inflammatory reactions, such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The study will include evaluating Luna’s exclusive nanomedicine prototypes.

Allergic conditions and other autoimmune diseases affect millions of people worldwide. These diseases are induced in tissues that contain mast cells (cells that line the surfaces of the skin, mouth, nose, eyes, sinuses, and lungs) and basophils (cells that are in the blood stream). Both cells contain histamine, the main cause of inflammatory allergic diseases.

Fullerenes are a novel class of carbon molecules that have unusual biological properties due to their unique structure. Luna‘s team of scientists in Danville, Virginia are synthesizing a variety of fullerenes to develop new or improved technologies to diagnose, monitor, and treat certain medical conditions.

“Our fullerenes are spherical carbon nanomaterials that have been modified to target sites within cells that amplify the immune response,” explained Dr. Chris Kepley, Principal Investigator of the RO1 and nanoImmunology Group Leader at Luna. “We have discovered that our fullerene prototypes block the noxious effects of allergies and therefore may be a new way to control allergies and other diseases that are largely due to mast cell and basophil responses. Because these nanomedicine prototypes appear to work through a unique pathway, it is possible they could combine with existing medicines and produce a synergy, which makes a significant impact on these diseases.”

In this program under the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Luna will explore whether fullerenes control allergies by investigating the systemic, cellular and molecular responses in vivo and in vitro. An interdisciplinary research team, led by Dr. Kepley, has been assembled to accomplish these studies. This team combines expertise in the chemical, physical and biological sciences and state-of-the-art methodologies and models.

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