1) My research goal is to develop an in vitro system that would be better than the current testing methods and may be even eliminated animal testing. I explore to create a novel cell culture model called "Tumor in a Dish" (TiD). This model will help us to study various aspect of cancer problems, like tumor microenvironment and cancer prevention and therapy.
In this regard, we have now developed a novel three-dimensional cultures system termed "Tumor in a Dish" (TiD), which mimics the in vivo-like tumor microenvironment. The model provides cell-cell contact, architecture, and influence of different types of cells in the tumor microenvironment. The model is amenable to testing approved chemotherapeutic agents and novel investigational compounds. My main focus in this project is, i) to identify the effective drug for the cancer patient, personalized medicine and ii) to create a new model to study various cancer-specific treatment using patient-derived cells using 2D vs 3D (single cell type spheroids) vs TiD. By using this model we have created lung metastatic model for colonization using various cancer cell line and patient derived cancer cells.
Our lab has a passion in developing patient derived organiods using primary cells isolated from biopsy and tissue.
Recently we have started a project to develop normal liver in a dish using mouse and human primary cells (hepatocytes and non-parenchymal cells) to study liver metastatic cancer and liver disease.
2) Hsp90 inhibitor project: Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women. Within breast cancer subtypes, those classified as Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) exhibit dismal survival rates due to their propensity to develop distant metastases. Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) is a molecular chaperone that aids in the folding and maturation of various proteins involved in breast cancer progression and resistance to therapy. My research focus is to elucidate whether the two natural inhibitors of Hsp90, celastrol and triptolide, inhibit triple negative breast cancer growth. This project mainly focuses on the effects of Hsp90 inhibitors on triple negative breast cancer: i) BRCA1 as a target for TNBC and ii) Notch as a therapeutic target for stem cells.