Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a major therapy for malignant diseases of the blood and bone marrow and the most potent form of immune therapy against these diseases through its graft-versus-leukemia/tumor (GVL/GVT) effect. However, the efficacy of allogeneic HSCT has been impeded by frequent and severe graft-versus- host disease (GVHD) that is tightly linked to the GVL/GVT effect. Both acute and chronic forms of GVHD exist. The immunology of GVHD and GVL responses are complex and cytokines and cellular effectors are critical. Dr. Paczesy’s laboratory focuses on understanding the role of cytokines and cellular effectors in the biology of GVHD/GVL by discovering and investigating biomarkers in the blood and tissue of patients following allogeneic HSCT.
The goal of Dr. Paczesy’s laboratory is to develop tests to predict the risk of developing CVHD, responsiveness to treatment, and patient survival by integrating both proteomic and cellular biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of GVHD. They are interested in both acute and chronic GVHD, which has overlapping features of immunodeficiency and symptoms of naturally occurring autoimmune disorders. Indeed, a prominent clinical feature of chronic GVHD is a debilitating fibrosing skin disease whose gross and histologic features resemble scleroderma (SSc) and, less commonly, morphea. Because of these potential biological similarities between chronic GVHD and autoimmune diseases, her work is also relevant.
Dr. Paczesy’s work to predict the risk of developing CVHD is another example of how IUPUI faculty are TRANSLATING RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.