An international research project has shown evidence that exposing embryos to medication to control bleeding from hemophilia reduces the chance of the immune system developing resistance to it later.
“As a result, the immune system will ‘think’ later in life that the medicine is part of the body’s innate functionality and so it will continue to be effective,” explains post-doc Sune Justesen from the Department of Biology at Copenhagen University.
Hemophiliacs’ blood does not clot, so they bleed excessively if they are cut. They must take a blood coagulant to control the bleeding, but over time the body’s immune system can develop resistance to it.
Some have questioned the practicality of the procedure, since hemophilia usually is not diagnosed until a child is born. But if there is a high risk of a child having the disease, if for example a parent is a hemophiliac, then the mother can be injected with hemophilia medicine. When the child encounters the medicine as an embryo, the immune system is tricked into believing that the drug is one of the body’s own molecules.
The results have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.