Dr Prahlad Raninga
‘Most patients initially respond to treatment but in a year or two the disease relapses and is fatal, which is why it’s so crucial to develop new treatments for this type of cancer’
Developing novel combination therapies to treat triple negative breast cancer.
Prahlad is a Post-Doctoral Research Officer at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Having been born and brought up in India where he completed a B. Pharmacy degree, Prahlad relocated to the UK to study his MSc by Research in Cancer Biology. He worked in laboratories in both the UK and Singapore before moving to Australia in 2013 to pursue a PhD degree at Griffith University, QL, for which he received five strong first-author research publications. During his doctorate studies, he was awarded the Young Scientist Travel Award by the International Union for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and was invited to present his work at a conference in Canada in 2016. Prahlad commenced his position at QIMR in January 2017.
Throughout his career, Prahlad’s research interests have been within the field of cancer biology, signalling and cancer therapeutics, and he has worked on different types of cancer including leukemia, multiple myeloma and colorectal carcinomas.
Prahlad’s research is focused on identifying novel molecular targets that can be exploited for therapy purpose. He is also working on studying the molecular mechanism for drug resistance and identifying ways to overcome chemoresistance in cancers. Currently, Prahlad is working on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is very aggressive and difficult to treat. ‘These tumours do not express any hormone receptor like other types of breast cancers and therefore, cannot be treated by anti-hormone therapies. Hence, the mainstay of treatment is chemotherapy,’ says Prahlad. ‘The TNBC patients respond to the chemotherapeutic agents initially but the disease relapses within a short period of time and it does not respond to the same treatment again, which is why there is an urgent need to develop new treatments for the TNBC patients.’
The majority of TNBC patients have a mutation in the TP53 gene. Currently no targeted therapies are available for mutant p53 TNBCs. ‘We identified a gene, which is amplified more in mutant p53 TNBC and its inhibition using a specific inhibitor which selectively kills mutant cells. I am testing the anti-tumour activity of the inhibitor either alone or in combination with other drugs to target mutant p53 TNBCs.’
THE IMPORTANCE OF FUNDING
Prahlad sees the Cure Cancer Australia grant as a vital milestone in his career. ‘Cure Cancer Australia’s grants and awards are extremely prestigious in Australia and worldwide. This funding will allow me to conduct an independent research project, publish high-quality scientific publications and translate my ideas from bench to the clinic, hopefully leading to novel treatments for one of the most life-threatening of cancers.’
‘I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to donors and fundraisers for their generous support of Cure Cancer Australia and early-career researchers like me. Without you we would never be in a position to conduct research that can make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of cancer patients. You encourage and motivate us.’
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