The Sebzda lab studies ways of manipulating the immune system to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Trust me, I’m a scientist.

The adaptive immune system (i.e. T cells, B cells, and NK cells) eliminates cancer-forming cells and invading pathogens. If this system is too aggressive (i.e. responds to “self” in addition to “foreign”), a variety of autoimmune disorders can occur, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, colitis and Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. On the other hand, acquired or genetic defects that imping on immunity can be devastating, as evidenced by AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)  and SCID (severe combined immune deficiency) patients. Therefore, a balance must be achieved to allow for pathogen and tumor clearance while remaining tolerant towards self.

A primary focus of the Sebzda laboratory is discovering new ways to manipulate adaptive immune responses to improve disease outcome in humans. To do this, we have utilized a variety of murine models to identify “bottlenecks” in the immune system that can be targeted with drugs to augment (pathogen and tumor clearance) or diminish (autoimmunity) adaptive immune responses. Importantly, we have verified that these systems are shared by humans and thus are a valid therapeutic target.

We are excited to report that we have discovered novel signaling pathways that can be targeted with drugs to block cancer development and autoimmunity in mice. We are currently expanding on this work by applying these therapies to new disease models as well as establishing collaborations for human trials.

Read more about our work: