Our work involves learning the intricacies of the immune system in order to better understand autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The Lab is particularly focused on an autoimmune disease called immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a condition characterized by low platelets (thrombocytopenia), which are particles in the blood that are important in the process of maintaining the integrity of the blood vessels. Disorders affecting the numbers of blood platelets can put patients at risk of bleeding. Dr. Lazarus and some of the members of the team study, the ability of novel monoclonal antibodies, as well as antibodies taken from the plasma of healthy blood donors (IVIg) to inhibit disease progression in autoimmunity. Dr. Lazarus and his team are having success in determining how IVIg suppresses ITP, and by uncovering IVIg’s mechanism of action, a replacement treatment may be developed that will be less costly, in continuous supply and free of viral disease. His Lab has discovered a replacement for IVIg to treat some autoimmune disorders in animal models (ITP & inflammatory arthritis) and we hope to be testing new therapies in human clinical trials within the next three to five years.
His group is also engaged in studies on how an antibody called “anti-D” is able to prevent a disease known as hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn from occurring. Anti-D, like IVIg (above) is a plasma derived protein (antibody) that is collected from many blood/plasma donors and is currently injected into pregnant mothers as well as mothers who have just delivered babies to prevent hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn. Understanding how anti-D the works will aid us in the development of a monoclonal substitute.