The Prakash lab is carrying out dynamic research in the multi-/inter-disciplinary fields of peptide therapeutics, targeted drug delivery, nanomedicine and biology (fibrosis and cancer). In recent years, the significance of fibrosis in cancer has been highlighted in driving the tumor progression and metastasis. The crosstalk between tumor cells and stromal cells such as cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) as well as extracellular matrix (ECM) is essential to maintain and stimulate the tumor growth and progression. The lab is, on the one hand, uncovering the underlying biology of tumor stroma interaction, while on the other hand, developing innovative technologies to target specific tumor stromal cells to inhibit their pro-tumorigenic effects and thereby improve the efficacy of anti-cancer therapies.
The lab has the following major research themes –
1. Identifying Novel Targets in the Tumor Microenvironment
Understanding the crosstalk between different cell types within the tumor microenvironment, especially focused on CAFs, TAMs and ECM interaction. We have identified several therapeutic targets which have been involved in these crosstalks (Kuninty et al 2016, Binnemars-Postma et al, 2018, Schnittert et al, 2018).
2. Peptide Technologies and Nanotechnologies to modulate the Tumor Microenvironment
Peptide technologies as therapeutics to re-program the tumor microenvironment in order to enhance anti-tumour effect of chemotherapy – the lab has recently developed novel integrin targeting peptides (Kuninty et al 2018) which has led to the startup company ScarTec Therapeutics BV.
Targeted nanomedicine to deliver therapeutic molecules (e.g. microRNA delivery, protein and peptide delivery) to specific cells within the tumor microenvironment to treat cancer. We have recently developed technologies to deliver anti-miRNA (Schnittert et al 2017) and peptide hormone (Mardhian et al 2018) using nanoparticles.