My 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. I am particularly focused on immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a condition characterized by low platelets, which are particles in the blood that are important in the process of blood clotting. Disorders affecting platelets can lower the number of platelets in the blood and put patients at risk of bleeding.
I am examining IVIg, a therapeutic product that suppresses various autoimmune conditions such as ITP. IVIg is the current treatment for ITP but is very expensive, not well understood, and available only in limited supply and carries a risk of transmitting viral diseases. It also does not work well in some autoimmune diseases (e.g. SLE).
My team and I 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. We have 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.
Please note: Dr. Lazarus is not taking any summer students.