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Researcher Discovers Possible Alternative to Embryonic Stem Cells as Treatment for Inflammatory Disorders

Nasreen S. Haque, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pathology


In her crusade to find reliable and ethical treatments for chronic disease, Nasreen S. Haque, Ph.D., may have discovered an alternative to embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as a treatment for inflammatory disorders. According to Dr. Haque, who serves as assistant professor of pathology and course director for Evolutionary Medicine in Health and Disease at New York Medical College’s (NYMC) Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences (GSBMS), while ESCs have the ability to treat various conditions, the ethical concerns and  malignant side effects associated with these stem cells make it an ineffective treatment.

“Similar to ESCs in their immunomodulatory capacity, mesenchymal adult stem cells (MSCs) can generate regulatory T cells (Tregs) that treat inflammatory disorders with a lower risk of malignant side effects,” explains Dr. Haque. Recognizing the ability and fewer ethical concerns of MSCs, Dr. Haque decided to explore the potential applications of this stem cell in the medical world.

To accurately understand the application of stem cell therapy to inflammatory disease, Dr. Haque worked to discover a novel method of forming EBs from MSCs and identify the specific Tregs produced by these stem cells. As published in the July edition of PLoS ONE¹, MSCs isolated from rat bone marrow were found to generate a novel regulatory T cell (mTregs) which has the potential for development to treat inflammatory disorders.

It’s just the first step in finding an improved treatment for patients with inflammatory disorders, however, within the next year, Dr. Haque plans to test MSC therapy in in-vivo rodent models; depending on the results of animal testing, potential human clinical trials may then be pursued. If translated to human therapies, Dr. Haque is hopeful that patients with chronic inflammatory and immune disorders, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and cancer will benefit. Her ultimate goal — translating her research into tangible and affordable treatments — is materializing by the second.

¹Haque NS, Tuteja A, Haque N (2019) CC chemokine CCL1 receptor CCR8 mediates conversion of mesenchymal stem cells to embryoid bodies expressing FOXP3+CCR8+ regulatory T cells. PLoS ONE 14(7): e0218944. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218944