Immune modulating medicine also called immunotherapy is medication that affects the body’s immune system.
The immune system is composed of immune cells and the proteins that they produce. These cells and proteins serve to protect the body against harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign invaders.
Immune modulating medicine is treatment that uses certain parts of your immune system to fight diseases. Clinical trials are ongoing to find out if such medicine can be used to treat pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP). This can be done in a different ways. In the treatment of PAP, immune modulating therapy tested in clinical trials consists of an immune system component called GM-CSF, which is given to relieve the symptoms of the disease.
The most common form of PAP, autoimmune PAP, is related to a defective immune control with high levels of antibodies that inactivate a protein called Granulocyte Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF).
GM-CSF serves to mature and stimulate the cells that defend your lungs against invading germs and regulate the breakdown of inactive surfactant. The discovery of GM-CSF antibodies’ role in PAP has led to the study of GM-CSF as a potential treatment of autoimmune PAP.
Treatment with GM-CSF is either given subcutaneously (through a needle under your skin) or as inhalation. A number of clinical studies have been published indicating the efficacy and safety of inhaled GM-CSF in PAP patients.
Scientific research also indicate that GM-CSF administration may facilitate restoration of the normal function of immune cells in the lungs (alveolar macrophages).
Another treatment approach that is studied for the treatment of autoimmune PAP is immuno-suppression. Immuno-suppressive therapies reduce the immune response, for example by selectively attacking immune cells which produce excess quantities of antibodies. As such, it is used to decrease the number of B-cells that produce antibodies, such as autoantibodies to GM-CSF antibodies. This may prevent the development of antibodies that inactivate the GM-CSF proteins. The same type of therapy is used for treatment of other diseases related to development of antibodies to your own tissue, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. However, at the moment further studies are needed in order to determine the effect and safety in PAP.