Education & Certifications


  • Biochemistry B.S., California State University, Northridge, Biochemistry (2017)

All Publications


  • 5-Azacytidine depletes hematopoietic stem cells and synergizes with an anti-CD117 antibody to augment donor engraftment in immunocompetent mice. Blood advances Bankova, A. K., Pang, W., Velasco, B. J., Long-Boyle, J. R., Shizuru, J. A. 2021

    Abstract

    Depletion of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) is used therapeutically in many malignant and non-malignant blood disorders in the setting of a hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) to eradicate diseased HSC allowing donor HSC to engraft. Current treatments to achieve HSC elimination rely on modalities that cause DNA strand breakage (i.e., alkylators, radiation) resulting in multiple short-term and long-term toxicities, and sometimes even death. These risks have severely limited HCT utilization to patients with few to no co-morbidities, and excluded many others with diseases curable by HCT. 5-Azacytidine (AZA) is a widely used hypomethylating agent that is thought to preferentially target leukemic cells in myeloid malignancies. Here, we reveal a previously unknown effect of AZA on HSC. We show that AZA induces early HSC proliferation in vivo and exerts a direct cytotoxic effect on proliferating HSC in vitro. When used to pretreat recipient mice for transplant, AZA permitted low level donor HSC engraftment. Moreover, by combining AZA with a monoclonal antibody (mAb), targeting CD117 (c-Kit), a molecule expressed on HSC, more robust HSC-depletion and substantially higher levels of multilineage donor cell engraftment was achieved in immunocompetent mice. The enhanced effectiveness of this combined regimen correlated with increased apoptotic cell death in HSPC. Together, these findings highlight a previously unknown therapeutic mechanism for AZA which may broaden its utilization in clinical practice. Moreover, the synergy we show between AZA and anti-CD117 mAb is a novel strategy to eradicate abnormal HSC which can be rapidly tested in the clinical setting.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003841

    View details for PubMedID 34448832

  • Antibody Conditioning Enables MHC-Mismatched Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants and Organ Graft Tolerance. Cell stem cell George, B. M., Kao, K. S., Kwon, H., Velasco, B. J., Poyser, J., Chen, A., Le, A. C., Chhabra, A., Burnett, C. E., Cajuste, D., Hoover, M., Loh, K. M., Shizuru, J. A., Weissman, I. L. 2019

    Abstract

    Hematopoietic cell transplantation can correct hematological and immunological disorders by replacing a diseased blood system with a healthy one, but this currently requires depleting a patient's existing hematopoietic system with toxic and non-specific chemotherapy, radiation, or both. Here we report an antibody-based conditioning protocol with reduced toxicity and enhanced specificity for robust hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation and engraftment in recipient mice. Host pre-treatment with six monoclonal antibodies targeting CD47, Tcells, NK cells, and HSCs followed by donor HSC transplantation enabled stable hematopoietic system reconstitution in recipients with mismatches at half (haploidentical) or all major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. This approach allowed tolerance to heart tissue from HSC donor strains in haploidentical recipients, showing potential applications for solid organ transplantation without immune suppression. Fully mismatched chimeric mice developed antibody responses to nominal antigens, showing preserved functional immunity. These findings suggest approaches for transplanting immunologically mismatched HSCs and solid organs with limited toxicity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2019.05.018

    View details for PubMedID 31204177