A research team discovered the use of “reverse vaccination,” a process that pre-exposes the body to medications to build immune tolerance to those therapies, according to a news release from the University of Buffalo. 

One of the biggest obstacles in developing therapies that are effective against diseases such as Pompe disease and hemophilia A is that the body’s own immune system starts to attack them. The immune system no longer tolerates those drugs and treats them as foreign invaders, which renders the drugs less effective. 

“The novel treatment pairs essential proteins and enzymes with lysophosphatidylserine (Lyso-PS), a fatty acid that helps the immune system tolerate foreign substances, reducing adverse reactions to the drugs,” the researchers explained. 

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In traditional vaccinations, the body is pre-exposed to certain foreign substances to prime it to attack potential threats. In the technology being developed by the research team, the body is trained to dampen its immune response towards a foreign substance (ie, the drug administered). This is why it has been given the moniker of “reverse vaccination.” 

This technique can be used across a wide range of diseases. The lead investigator, Sathy Balu-Iyer, PhD, commented, “The treatment could be applied to a broad range of drug therapies, autoimmune disorders, and allergies.” 

Patients with Pompe disease lack the necessary enzyme (acid alpha-glucosidase) to break down complex sugars for energy. “Findings published in August in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis found that four weeks of co-administration of Lyso-PS with Factor VIII significantly reduced the development of antibodies without impacting the effectiveness of the protein,” according to the news release,  

Nhahn Hahn Nguyen, one of the researchers, summarized the workings of this novel drug: “Our approach is based on the rationale that pre-exposure of a protein in the presence of Lyso-PS teaches the immune system not to mount a response.”


Robinson M. New treatment uses reverse vaccination to teach immune system not to attack life-saving drugs. News release. University of Buffalo; September 29, 2021.