The research goal of the Prakash lab is to design and develop new cell-specific targeting strategies to address fibrosis and fibrosis-driven cancer. Fibrosis or scarring is described as the excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) in an organ, which may lead to dysfunction of the organ and eventually death. In recent years, the contribution of fibrosis in cancer has received enormous attention due to its contribution in inducing tumor progression and metastasis. In addition, fibrotic stromal tissue hampers drug delivery to the tumors, thereby reducing therapeutic efficacy of anticancer agents.

Modulation of the Tumor Microenvironment

Evidence is increasing that tumor growth is not solely dependent on cumulative gene mutations, but also significantly influenced by the surrounding tumor stroma. Specifically, cancer cells co-exist in the tumor microenvironment with stromal components which is mostly comprised of fibroblasts, endothelial cells, inflammatory immune cells, adipocytes, and extracellular matrix (ECM). Complex interactions between tumor cells and the stroma govern tumorigenesis, tumor progression, and metastasis.

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Besides the (targeted) modulation of the tumor microenvironment, our lab also focus on the development of novel therapeutics or on exploring the application of endogenous mediators in the treatment of cancer.

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Novel 3D
in vitro models

Three-dimensional (3D) culture models such as spheroids better resemble the in vivo situation compared to 2D models, and more realistically recapitulate the tumor microenvironment offering advantages of resembling in vivo tumor microenvironment, enabling thereby a better understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms and cell-matrix interactions. Furthermore, they can facilitate better screening of nanomedicines. 3D in vitro models also yield more predictive in vitro data and support the reduction of animal studies which are costly and suffering from high failures rates; for all these reasons, 3D in vitro models are particularly attractive for screening of clinically relevant properties of nanomedicines.

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Inhibition of Skin Scar Formation

Deviation from physiological wound healing process leads to the formation of skin scars. It leads to huge aesthetic burden and inhibit the free movement of body parts, thus affecting patient’s life both physically and psychologically. Various studies conducted on hypertrophic and keloid scar formation in the last decade lead to the multiple therapeutic strategies to treat already formed scars. But no strategy is reported to prevent skin scar formation during wound healing process. Here we report for the first time, strategy to inhibit skin scar formation during ongoing wound healing process. Our technology can be effectively used in bandages to promote wound healing but simultaneously inhibiting the skin scar formation.

>> Read more about the inhibition of skin scar formation.