Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most prevalent cancer in the world and the most prevalent cancer in developing countries. According to recent reports from World Health Organization, the greatest number of Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) cases are in India which accounts for approximate 30% of all HNC cases in the world. It also accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths in India. Increased disease burden and a smaller number of approved targeted therapies are a growing concern worldwide. Therefore, there are copious possibilities to develop novel treatment modalities against HNSCC through interventions of molecular signaling pathways responsible for tumorigenesis.
My doctoral research work is focused on defining the role of MK2 protein kinase in HNSCC pathogenesis, progression, and to discover novel potential therapeutics against it. I am working on lead identification and optimization through in-vitro assays, mechanism of action studies, and pre-clinical safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics evaluation of small molecule inhibitors to characterize their inhibitory effects against MK2 to develop a successful drug candidate against HNSCC.
This project is of high consonance with the priority sector outlined as ‘Global health and wellbeing’ and effectively falls under target 3.B ‘Support Research, Development And Universal Access to Affordable Vaccines and Medicines’
As part of my Ph.D. work, I have also worked as a visiting researcher at King’s College London, UK on radiotherapy response in HNSCC. Additionally, apart from my Ph.D research domain, I have experience in NGS transcriptome analysis of clinical HNSCC samples, metagenomic analysis, and development of miRNA therapeutics against pre-clinical model of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.