Research Interests: Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Experimental Therapeutics
I am working with cancer researchers from the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop effective treatment strategies by identifying novel targets for therapy. As a surgical oncologist, I have access to the clinical resources of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, which coordinates the diagnosis and treatment of many cancer patients in western Massachusetts. My primary interest is in translational research focusing on the treatment and prevention of breast and colon cancer. Currently, I am working on three important areas of research:
- To date, there is no effective biomarker in colon cancer that can stratify patients for optimal therapy nor effectively monitor a favorable response to treatment. In collaboration with Dr. Rong Shao, a colleague at the Institute, I am investigating YKL-40, a novel proangiogenic factor that is overexpressed in colon cancer and may be a potential biomarker to predict prognosis. By analyzing the expression pattern of YKL-40 in patients with colon cancer who have been treated at Baystate Medical Center, we hope to collect information that may help identify a subset of cancer patients with a poorer prognosis. These patients may benefit from more aggressive therapy, possibly with novel antiangiogenesis agents.
- Mathematical modeling has the potential to aid in treatment decisions and improve overall cancer care. In collaboration with PVLSI colleague Dr. Neil Forbes, I am developing mechanistic models that predict the response of breast cancer to chemotherapy utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. Women with advanced breast cancer require chemotherapy to reduce tumors before surgery to optimize treatment outcomes. Currently, response to chemotherapy is assessed only after several treatment cycles are administered. Our goal is to employ a mathematical model utilizing specific biologic and physical parameters to predict tumor response before initiating therapy. This model could lead to a more individualized approach to plan complex treatment strategies.
- Tumor cells rely on metabolic pathways that can alter glucose uptake and catabolism. This observation, known as the Warburg effect, explains the importance of PET scans to detect the progression of certain cancers and to measure treatment response. In collaboration with PVLSI colleague Dr. Nagendra Yadava and Baystate Thoracic Surgery, I am developing a specific assay to measure metabolic activity of lung cancers that have been diagnosed and treated at Baystate Medical Center. This assay will allow us to investigate the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in lung cancer, which may play a role in the cancer's resistance to current therapies.
Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research
Center of Excellence in Apoptosis Research
Venkatasubramanian R, Arenas RB, Henson MA, Forbes NS. Mechanistic modeling of dynamic MRI data predicts that tumour heterogeneity decreases therapeutic response. Br J Cancer. 2010;103(4):486-497.
Shao R, Hamel K, Petersen L, Cao QJ, Arenas RB, Bigelow C, Bentley B, Yan W. YKL-40, a secreted glycoprotein, promotes tumor angiogenesis. Oncogene. 2009;28(50):4456-4468.
Ganai S, Arenas RB, Forbes NS. Tumour-targeted delivery of TRAIL using Salmonella typhimurium enhances breast cancer survival in mice. Br J Cancer. 2009;101(10):1683-1691.
2002 Faculty Teaching Award, Baystate Medical Center
1998 Charles Huggins Faculty Research Award, University of Chicago
1994 Young Investigator's Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology