I study a bacterial protein, leukotoxin, that is able to target and kill malignant and autoreactive white blood cells. I’m investigating the potential use of this protein (registered as Leukothera®) as a therapeutic agent for treating hematologic malignancies (leukemia and lymphoma) and autoimmune diseases. Studies in my laboratory include mechanistic studies of how Leukothera® interacts with and kills certain white blood cells. In addition, I’m testing the safety and efficacy of Leukothera® in different animal models of disease. My goal is to introduce Leukothera® into the clinic for testing in patients with cancer and autoimmune and inflammatory disease. In 2009, I founded Actinobac Biomed, Inc. to move my research discoveries on leukotoxin/Leukothera® from the laboratory to the clinic. Actinobac Biomed has raised more than $9 million in investments and grants to develop Leukothera® into a pharmaceutical agent. I have received more than $4 million in academic research funding.


B.S. in microbiology Cornell University

Ph.D, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons


  1. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Leukotoxin (LtxA; Leukothera®): Mechanisms of Action and Therapeutic Applications. Vega BA, Belinka BA Jr, Kachlany SC. Toxins (Basel). 2019 Aug 26;11(9):489. doi: 10.3390/toxins11090489. PMID: 31454891 Free PMC article. Review.
  2. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Leukotoxin (LtxA) Requires Death Receptor Fas, in Addition to LFA-1, To Trigger Cell Death in T Lymphocytes. Vega BA, Schober LT, Kim T, Belinka BA Jr, Kachlany SC. Infect Immun. 2019 Jul 23;87(8):e00309-19. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00309-19. Print 2019 Aug. PMID: 31109948 Free PMC article.
  3. Mechanisms of LtxA (Leukotoxin), a Potent New Anti-Inflammatory Agent for the Treatment of Alopecia Areata. Kachlany SC. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2015 Nov;17(2):19-22. doi: 10.1038/jidsymp.2015.34. PMID: 26551939 Review.
  4. LFA-1-targeting Leukotoxin (LtxA; Leukothera®) causes lymphoma tumor regression in a humanized mouse model and requires caspase-8 and Fas to kill malignant lymphocytes. DiFranco KM, Johnson-Farley N, Bertino JR, Elson D, Vega BA, Belinka BA Jr, Kachlany SC. Leuk Res. 2015 Jun;39(6):649-56. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2015.03.010. Epub 2015 Mar 21. PMID: 25850729 Free PMC article.
  5. Expression and targeting of lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) on white blood cells for treatment of allergic asthma. Gupta A, Espinosa V, Galusha LE, Rahimian V, Miro KL, Rivera-Medina A, Kasinathan C, Capitle E, Aguila HA, Kachlany SC. J Leukoc Biol. 2015 Mar;97(3):439-46. doi: 10.1189/jlb.5HI0414-196R. Epub 2014 Oct 23. PMID: 25341726 Free PMC article.
  6. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin (LtxA; Leukothera) induces cofilin dephosphorylation and actin depolymerization during killing of malignant monocytes. Kaur M, Kachlany SC. Microbiology (Reading). 2014 Nov;160(Pt 11):2443-2452. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.082347-0. Epub 2014 Aug 28. PMID: 25169107 Free PMC article.
  7. Leukotoxin kills rodent WBC by targeting leukocyte function associated antigen 1. DiFranco KM, Kaswala RH, Patel C, Kasinathan C, Kachlany SC. Comp Med. 2013 Aug;63(4):331-7. PMID: 24209968 Free PMC article.
  8. Leukotoxin (Leukothera®) targets active leukocyte function antigen-1 (LFA-1) protein and triggers a lysosomal mediated cell death pathway. DiFranco KM, Gupta A, Galusha LE, Perez J, Nguyen TV, Fineza CD, Kachlany SC. J Biol Chem. 2012 May 18;287(21):17618-27. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.314674. Epub 2012 Mar 30. PMID: 22467872 Free PMC article.
  9. HIV envelope gp120 activates LFA-1 on CD4 T-lymphocytes and increases cell susceptibility to LFA-1-targeting leukotoxin (LtxA). Hioe CE, Tuen M, Vasiliver-Shamis G, Alvarez Y, Prins KC, Banerjee S, Nádas A, Cho MW, Dustin ML, Kachlany SC. PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23202. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023202. Epub 2011 Aug 5. PMID: 21850260 Free PMC article.
  10. In vitro synergism between LFA-1 targeting leukotoxin (Leukothera™) and standard chemotherapeutic agents in leukemia cells. Gupta A, Le A, Belinka BA, Kachlany SC. Leuk Res. 2011 Nov;35(11):1498-505. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2011.05.017. Epub 2011 Jun 12. PMID: 21664691
  11. Resolution of psoriasis by a leukocyte-targeting bacterial protein in a humanized mouse model. Stenderup K, Rosada C, Dam TN, Salerno E, Belinka BA, Kachlany SC. J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Oct;131(10):2033-9. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.161. Epub 2011 Jun 9. PMID: 21654835
  12. Anti-leukemia activity of a bacterial toxin with natural specificity for LFA-1 on white blood cells. Kachlany SC, Schwartz AB, Balashova NV, Hioe CE, Tuen M, Le A, Kaur M, Mei Y, Rao J. Leuk Res. 2010 Jun;34(6):777-85. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2009.08.022. Epub 2009 Sep 10. PMID: 19747730 Free PMC article.