Hematological malignancies are area of my interest and I am actively pursuing research in this area. The extramural grants received have been utilized to standardize laboratory assays for cancer research and also in setting up new assays for patient care services.Description of my over the last few years has been highlighted below.
1. Unit of excellence on cancer research on Multiple Myeloma (MM): This program aims to promote excellence in clinical laboratory practice, research and education on MM. In the era of personalized medicine where specific genomic aberrations have been linked to response and/or refractoriness to therapy, advanced genomic based tests in MM are important for assessing prognosis and imparting high quality personalized clinical care. The enhancement of current diagnostic facilities so as to achieve complete characterization of disease in each patient, development of facility to store these well-characterized samples for future research and study of genetic and epigenetic aberrations in these cancers to identify novel biomarkers for diagnosis, prediction of disease progression and response to therapy, are the focus of this unit of excellence.
2. Center of Advanced Research & Education on Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): AML in India has a disease burden of 2.5 cases per 100,000 and is distinct from the west because of younger age at presentation (30-40 years vs. 60-70 years in US), an advanced stage and higher early mortality during treatment. In addition, disease relapse occurs in nearly 50% of the patients of AML within the first five years and is of concern worldwide. Persistence of leukemic stem cells (LSC), which are highly divergent founder progenitors harboring heterogeneous functional, genomic, epigenomic and immunologic phenotypes, with properties of self-renewal, cell cycle quiescence and chemo-resistance, acts as the epicenter of regrowth of leukemia in treated patients of AML. The main focus of the proposed project is to characterize LSC in AML and study its micro environment which may then be used to develop appropriate therapeutic approach against them. Besides, the microtransplantation based approach for treatment of AML will be evaluated for its effect on early induction mortality, response, leukemia free survival, overall survival.
3. Minimal Residual Disease Estimation in Multiple Myeloma using Image Processing: Design and Development of Myelomaimager - an Automated Computer Assisted Tool: This study is aimed at the development of a computerized image analysis software for the classification of neoplastic plasma cells (PC) and normal PC for estimating minimal residual disease (MRD) in multiple myeloma (MM). We aim to develop a resource-effective tool for MRD detection in clinical management of MM that will benefit Indian society at large because, in general, our public hospitals and pathology labs suffer with resource shortage including skilled manpower.
4. Identification of network pathways for drug targeting in Multiple Myeloma from NGS data using Deep Learning: Most of the cancers involve intricate escape mechanisms in an individual that help malignant cells evade immune system and develop drug resistance against chemotherapy. The inherent ability of cancerous cells to continue to evolve and reach a dynamic state of physiological heterogeneity is the underlying mechanism of failure of treatment and development of relapse in patients. In this study, an integrated approach will be used to analyse genomic datasets of MM using machine learning/deep learning based computational tools to corroborate gene signatures of MM with their functional biological and pharmacological pathways at a high resolution.
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