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The paper

S. Tsai et al., “Reversal of autoimmunity by boosting memory-like autoregulatory T cells,” Immunity, 32:568-80, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation

The finding

Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis develop over many years and result in chronic diseases that flare and subside. While trying to kill the cells responsible for the disease in mice, Pere Santamaria at the University of Calgary and colleagues activated a set of mysterious immune cells—and in the process, potentially offered both a new explanation for why inflammation comes and goes, and a new way to reverse the disease.

The surprise

The plan was to create nanoparticles that would only kill the T cells attacking healthy tissue in mice, leaving the normal immune system intact. “But it didn’t work,” says Santamaria—at least, not how he expected.

The clues

Rather than killing immune cells, Santamaria...

The future

Impressively, says Faculty Member E. Charles Snow, the nanoparticles could reverse a disease already in progress. “This puts their finding at a whole new level when compared to other studies,” he writes in an e-mail.

F1000 evaluators: E.C. Snow (Univ of Kentucky Medical Center) • P. Van Endert (INSERM) • J.T. Kay (St. Vincent’s Inst Med Research)

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