Dr Karen English has been an Associate Professor in the Biology Department of Maynooth University near Dublin since 2020.
In May 2022 Science Foundation Ireland awarded €4.8 million in research funding to Dr English and her colleagues to cover a variety of research projects. The project led by Dr English focuses on a cell-based therapy – mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) – that is being investigated as a treatment
for patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Congratulations on your recent funding from Science Foundation Ireland. How is the research going?
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a complex and very serious disease, which has mortality rates of 30 to 40%.For example, many of the worst affected COVID patients,those who are in Intensive Care Units,
suffer from ARDS.The virus makes the patient’s immune system go into overdrive and this puts severe pressure on the lungs.The treatments available at present are limited so this is an unmet clinical need.
Our research is investigating ways to calm the immune system down using MSC, which are found in bone marrow. This avenue looks promising but in clinical trials, there is great heterogeneity in how individual patients react to these cells. Our research challenge is to work out why some patients respond favourably while others do not. If we can get to the bottom of this a more successful cell therapy treatment is possible.
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