The development of advanced therapies with mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) and regulatory T cells (Tregs) represents a very promising treatment to current therapies using immunosuppressive drugs or biological agents for those patients that are refractory or experience significant adverse effects to conventional therapies.

One of the advantages of cell-based therapies with MSCs is that the MSCs are easy to isolate and expand in vitro and thanks to their low immunogenicity they can be used in allogeneic contexts allowing the establishment of cell banks prompt to use when required. In this project, we are investigating whether cell-based therapy with MSCs genetically modified to express CXCR4, which increases their migratory capacity towards inflamed tissues, and interleukin 10, which increases their immunosuppressive potential, can enhance their efficacy and can actually be an alternative therapy for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) are an essential cellular component of the immune system and play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining self-tolerance and immune homeostasis.

Our group is a member of the recently created TE-MODULO consortium based in Madrid, where novel approaches using Treg cell-based therapies are under development aiming to improve or to inhibit the immunomodulatory function of the Tregs in different pathological contexts. We are currently conducting cell-based therapies with Treg cells using different experimental models of acute and chronic colitis in mice. In particular, we are interested in defining the importance of endogenous galectin-1, an endogenous lectin with immunomodulatory properties specifically expressed by Treg cells, as a new determinant in the modulation mediated by Treg cells in intestinal inflammation.  

We are also investigating specific Treg cell markers within the tumor microenvironment aiming to develop novel immunotherapy approaches that will specifically block intratumoral Treg cells allowing the natural antitumor action of the host to take place without disrupting peripheral tolerance. In this context, we are working in glioblastoma and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, both very aggressive tumours that, to date, have no effective therapy with conventional treatments.

 

Marina Inmaculada Garín Ferreira

Marina Garín Ferreira

Head of Research Area