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Researchers in the Seif Lab are focused on manipulating the human innate and immune systems to treat children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The lab’s long-term goal of the research conducted is to identify innate and adaptive immune mechanisms that can be used to treat pediatric ALL more effectively, and with less toxicity, than existing therapies.
The Seif Lab demonstrated that immunostimulatory synthetic DNA molecules (CpG ODNs) that stimulate the innate immune system can induce anti-leukemia immune responses in pediatric ALL. They also showed that CpG ODNs induce both strong innate and adaptive anti-leukemia responses. The results of these studies are being used to design clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of CpG ODNs as treatments for children with relapsed ALL.
Other studies in the Seif Lab are directed at developing new strategies that induce durable immune-mediated protection against ALL disease progression. These studies are conduced in a unique transgenic mouse model of ALL created by researchers in the Seif Lab. The results of these studies suggest that a multi-antigen immune response may be required for durable long-term protection against ALL disease progression. Immune tolerance to individual antigens will be an important hurdle to overcome, and studies are under way to identify strategies to circumvent tolerance.
Additional research in the Seif Laboratory focus on the ability of certain chemotherapy drugs already in use, such as mitoxantrone and azacitidine, to induce an immunogenic type of tumor cell death to potentiate adaptive immune responses to ALL. Studies are underway to examine the effects of these drugs on antigen presentation in ALL tumor cells to determine if immunogenic tumor cell death can stimulate adaptive immune responses in pediatric ALL by disrupting immune tolerance.
Alix E. Seif, MD, MPH
Dr. Seif's research centers on manipulating the human innate and immune systems to treat children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The long-term goal of her research is to identify innate and adaptive immune mechanisms that can be used to treat pediatric ALL more effectively, and with less toxicity, than existing therapies.