Carl DeSelm, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Radiation Oncology

Immunology Program
Cancer Biology Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program

  • 314 273-2931


  • Dr. DeSelm clinically focuses on treating lymphoma, and is actively developing novel CAR T cell approaches to treating solid tumors, including lymphoma, pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma.

Research Abstract:

Dr. DeSelm’s research is based upon several fundamental ideas that have surfaced in recent decades. The first is that within each patient are immune cells dedicated to finding and destroying microscopic organisms that are far more sophisticated than any drug developed by man. The second is that these immune cells, generally T cells, can be modified to find and destroy tumor cells, using a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Using this approach, large, advanced, or aggressive cancers can sometimes be completely eliminated after a single treatment with the patient’s own modified immune cells. A major question remains – how do we achieve this result for all cancers, and all patients.

One major obstacle to applying this technique to all cancers is the difficulty in finding target molecules that are only expressed on the tumor cells, and not on critical normal tissues. Further, if not every tumor cell expresses the target molecule, the cancer will not be cured, as the negative cells that escape will eventually grow back. One major focus of the lab is identifying novel ways by which CAR cellular therapy can overcome the problem of antigen escape, to fully eliminate disseminated, heterogeneous cancer cells.

Additional problems exist in solid tumors, including poor penetration of the tumor by CAR T cells, and inherent resistance of particular tumors to T cell killing. The mechanisms by which these occur, and methods to overcome them, are active areas of investigation within the laboratory.

Radiation therapy is known to modulate the immune response in a variety of ways, but its effect on cellular therapy is poorly understood. An additional major focus in the laboratory is to examine the effect of radiation therapy on the systemic and local tumor response to CAR T cell therapy, and develop CARs that function synergistically with radiation and other highly effective treatment modalities.

Selected Publications:

DeSelm C, Palomba ML, Yahalom J, Hamieh M, Eyquem J, Rajasekhar VK, Sadelain M. Low-Dose Radiation Conditioning Enables CAR T Cells to Mitigate Antigen Escape. Mol Ther. 2018 Nov 7;26(11):2542-2552.

DeSelm CJ, Tano ZE, Varghese AM, Adusumilli PS. CAR T-cell therapy for pancreatic cancer. J Surg Oncol. 2017 Jul;116(1):63-74. Review. PubMed PMID: 28346697; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5491361.

DeSelm CJ, Miller BC, Zou W, Beatty W, Teitelbaum SL, Virgin HW. Autophagy Proteins are Important for Lysosome Secretion and Bone Degradation. Dev Cell Vol 21, 966–974, Nov 2011. Cover Story for November 2011 Dev Cell Issue.

Last Updated: 8/21/2018 8:47:17 AM

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