Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

David S. Bradley


Immunotherapies now stand at the forefront of cancer treatment as a versatile arsenal of cutting-edge tools wielded by medical professionals to combat and conquer a spectrum of formidable diseases. Most notably, immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, have revolutionized the field of oncology offering a promising alternative to conventional treatments like chemo and radiation therapy with significant improvements for patients in terms of quality of life and survival. Immunotherapies can be uniquely personalized to a patient's genetic and immune system profile leading to more effective treatments and durable long-lasting responses. Our research group has identified Staphylococcal enterotoxin I as a potent T cell activator that drives multifaceted antitumor responses but has not been incorporated into the arsenal due to the risk of HLA-associated toxicity. The following work aims to understand further and reduce that risk. HLA-DQ8 mice with established B16-F10 tumors receiving 25µg of SEI on days 6 and 9 post-tumor implant resulted in an astonishing 100% progression-free survival for greater than 400 days. However, SEI cancer immunotherapy was not successful in HLA-DR3 humanized transgenic or allogenic C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, HLA-DQ8 mice rechallenged with 2.5x105 live B16-F10 cells experienced 100% survival for greater than 100 days post-implant. However, SEI immunotherapy was only limitedly effective against established Lewis lung carcinoma and did not provide cross-protection against rechallenge with either LLC or TC-1 tumor cell lines. The studies presented herein demonstrate that single superantigen SEI immunotherapy elicits antitumor responses against melanoma and supports further investigation into clinical applications of superantigen-based immunotherapies.

Available for download on Friday, January 23, 2026