Irene Benito Cuesta

Irene Benito Cuesta

Postdoctoral studies

About me

I am a postdoc researcher at Bob Harris’ group since 2021. I am an enthusiast of how the central nervous system works and in particular of the role played by microglia in modulating the immune response in neurodegenerative diseases.

After my bachelor’s in Biotechnology (Universidad de Salamanca, Spain), I conducted a Master’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain) and my Ph.D. studies under the supervision of Francisco Wandosell (CBMSO-CSIC, Madrid) on the signalling pathways to modulate autophagy in neurons and their impact on an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Afterwards I became interested in the highly versatile role of microglia in neurodegenerative diseases, deepening its understanding during my postdoc at the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria (Madrid) and currently at Karolinska Institutet (CMM, Solna).

Research description

I am focussed in deciphering the therapeutic potential of transplanting allogenic microglia-like cells (MLCs) obtained from healthy donors to address neuroinflammatory conditions with the help of different mouse models. In a clinical context, MLCs derived from healthy donors would avoid the counterproductive effect of using autologous cells from patients that could carry mutations involved in the progression of the disease. While an induced anti-inflammatory phenotype, together with the immune privileged environment of the central nervous system, facilitates the acceptance of allogenic MLCs, we hypothesize that the integration of MHC-mismatched MLCs would boost the immune tolerance with additional therapeutic effects in neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases such as MS.

I am also interested in studying the repopulation of the microglia niche during embryogenesis with allogenic myeloid cells derived from the pregnant mother. Using transgenic mouse models, this study will help us to better understand the microchimerism of the microglia niche, the differentiation of adult myeloid cells into bona-fide microglia, as well as their role and potential application in different disease contexts.