Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Microbiology and Immunology


Vitiligo and melanoma are both melanocyte-derived diseases; vitiligo progresses through the autoimmune-targeted destruction of healthy melanocytes while melanoma results from uncontrolled proliferation of cancerous melanocytes. Treatment of vitiligo with HSP70iQ435A inhibits the DC-mediated auto-immune response against melanocytes in vitiligo mouse models; this raises the concern that treatment with this modified HSP may also inhibit natural anti-tumor responses against melanocyte-derived melanoma tumor cells.

We hypothesized that HSP70iQ435A prevents migration of melanocyte-antigen reactive T cells to the skin in a way that is mechanistically different from anti-tumor responses to melanoma and therefore would not have a negative effect on anti-tumor responses. We also hypothesized that treatment with HSP70iQ435A confers anti-melanoma resistance through antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytoxicity directed against surface-HSP70i on melanoma cells. Therefore, treatment with HSP70iQ435A may have therapeutic value in treatment of both vitiligo and melanoma.

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