Dr. Radhashree Maitra, associate professor of biology at Yeshiva University and a Senior Scientist at Montefiore Medical Center, has received a three-year R15 Research Enhancement Award award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $433,953 for the period Jan 14, 2022 – Dec 31, 2024.
YU News caught up with Dr. Maitra to talk about the grant and research it supports.
How would you describe the research supported by this grant to non-specialists like us?
I do research in colorectal cancer (CRC), with an emphasis on the subset of patients who has oncogenic KRAS mutation and accounts for 45% of the total CRC patient cohort.
These patients perform poorly on the newly developed monoclonal antibody therapy that has conferred significant benefits to the KRAS wildtype CRC patients. The KRAS mutant CRC patients have no FDA-approved treatment option available beyond the frontline therapy, and often, the disease progresses aggressively without specific targeted treatment regimen.
I am using an oncolytic virus (REOVIRUS) to therapeutically target the KRAS mutant CRC cells. I have previously published that reovirus induces autophagy (that is, the self-destruction of damages cells) in KRAS mutated CRC cells. In the current research proposal, I will test the efficacy of REOVIRUS in combination with autophagy inducer carbamazepine in cell lines and mouse models of the disease.
Will you be able to include YU students in the research and, if so, in what capacities? (You already seem to include as authors on your papers.)
Since I joined Yeshiva University in 2017, I have always involved students in my research in several capacities that included wet laboratory experiments, bioinformatics-based analysis, RNA sequencing analysis, analytical testings and so on. In last 4 years, we have successfully published 12 papers with YU undergraduate students in peer-reviewed, high-impact PUBMED indexed journals. A few more are currently under preparation. The undergraduate biology major students have contributed significantly to my current research endeavors.
How does this research fit into your overall body of work?
The current NIH funded R-15 research proposal, if successful, will have a strong impact on the development of a new and efficacious treatment strategy for KRAS mutated CRC patients with unmet medical needs. This research is certainly an integral part of my research mission.
What’s the next step to take after this research is done?
This translational research proposal involves experiments with colorectal cancer cell lines and mouse models of the disease. After the research is successfully completed, we will be able to confidently propose a clinical trial with human patients. The positive outcomes will then be evaluated by FDA for approval as a treatment strategy for KRAS mutated CRC patients.
For more information about Dr. Maitra’s research and publications, especially her work with students, visit her website.