Kashmiri Scientist’s Jamia Lab Develops Pathbreaking Engineered Stem Cell Therapy

SRINAGAR: Researchers at Jamia Millia’s Multidisciplinary Centre for Advanced Research and Studies (MCARS) have developed genetically engineered stem cells for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases. Kashmir scientist, Dr Tanveer Ahmad led the pathbreaking initiative.

The team of scientists at Jamia Millia’s Multidisciplinary Centre for Advanced Research and Studies (MCARS) who developed genetically engineered stem cells for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases. (R to L) Iqbal Azmi (co-author), Areej Akhtar (co-author), Dr Tanveer Ahmad (Principal Investigator), Miss Nisha Chaudhary (co-author) and Md. Imam Faizan (first author). KL Image: Special Arrangement

Research has shown that stem cell-based therapies can alleviate inflammatory conditions during infectious diseases such as Covid19. The study first elucidated the cause of cellular damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 and its proteins in lung cells and then designed an innovative approach to create engineered stem cells.

“The stem cells when introduced into model cellular systems demonstrate therapeutic efficacy by alleviating pro-inflammatory mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) release, which has clinically been shown to lead to disease pathogenesis,” Dr Tanveer said. “The therapeutic effect was shown to be mediated by the direct transfer of the healthy mitochondria from stem cells to infected lung cells and restore their function.”

Dr Tanveer offered a lot of details about this research while talking to Kashmir Life early this year.

The laboratory, one of the best in India, has named these cells IMAT-MSCs (intercellular mitochondrial transfer-assisted therapeutic mesenchymal stem cells).

Mohammad Imam Faizan, the first author of the study, said that IMAT-MSCs have shown impressive therapeutic efficacy and they will take their study to preclinical models of infectious and inflammatory lung diseases soon.

Dr Ahmad said that this is the first time it has been demonstrated at the molecular level how inflammatory and apoptosis-inducing mtDNA is

released from the cell mitochondria. Scientists have been trying to identify the molecular pathway that leads to mtDNA release from mitochondria matrix, and this is the first study to show that mitochondria from the inner membrane vesicles package their DNA and extrude it out of the organelle which is eventually secreted extracellularly.

Professor Mohammad Zulfequar, Director MCARS, a press note issued by the Jamia said, has congratulated all the authors of the study and said that such innovative studies where a concept is taken from the bench to the bedside are much-needed approaches to treat a vast repertoire of human diseases, even aside from infectious diseases like ovid19.

Dr SN Kazim, the deputy director of the centre also highlighted the translational potential of this innovative cell-based therapy developed by MCARS researchers in collaboration with clinicians. Dr Kazim said that as the world is embracing the next revolution of cellular therapies like CAR-T cells, which demonstrate remarkable and durable responses against relapsed and refractory blood cancer, the cell-based approach used in this study further proves the enormous translational potential of cellular therapies.

Gene Editing Professor

Dr Tanveer Ahmad, who led the pathbreaking research, also acknowledges the contribution of Dr Soumya Sinha Roy (Senior Scientist, CSIR-IGIB), Dr Pankaj Seth (Professor, NBRC), Dr Rituparna Chaudhuri (Postdoctoral Fellow, NBRC), Dr Jawed Iqbal (Scientist, MCARS), Dr Mohan C Joshi (Assistant Professor, MCARS), Dr Shakti Sagar (PhD, CSIR-IGIB), Gaurav Kharya (BMT

Head, Apollo hospital), Dr Rohit Kumar (Clinician, Safdarjung Hospital), Dr Syed Mansoor Ali (Assistant Professor, JMI) and Dr Sarah Albogami (Assistant Professor, Taif University Saudi Arabia). The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Cells from MDPI.

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