Maynooth University academic improves cellular therapies to calm the immune system

Dr Karen English
Friday, October 12, 2018 - 15:15

Dr Karen English at Maynooth University is improving cellular therapies to calm the immune system. She spoke to Dr Claire O’Connell for Silicon Republic

We all know someone who seems to have the magic touch when it comes to taking the heat out of situations, calming troubled waters. In the body, perhaps the equivalent peacemakers are mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These stem cells have anti-inflammatory powers, so can we harness their powers even further to help patients?

Dr Karen English at Maynooth University (MU) is on a mission to boost the superpowers of MSCs in order to help treat chronic and life-threatening conditions that involve the immune system. Her work on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung fibrosis, diabetes, asthma and graft-versus-host disease is showing promise in the lab.

“People are aware of stem cells because they have the ability to turn into other types of cells, but I look at a different property that they have,” explained English, who is a a principal investigator in MU’s Department of Biology and head of the Cellular Immunology Lab.

“We want to use the ability of these cells to calm inflammation in the body, and we use mesenchymal stem cells, which the body naturally makes in bone marrow. Mesenchymal stem cells have been used in bone marrow transplants for decades and they have an excellent safety profile.”

Read the rest of this article on the Silicon Republic here: