Neelu Puri, PhDAssociate Professor (RT) University of Illinois College of Medicine RockfordDepartment of Biomedical Sciences
Cancer therapy and Obesity research
Dr. Puri’s research focuses on two major areas:
1) Cancer therapy:
T-oligo: Her cancer therapy research focuses on developing novel targeted therapies using T-oligo. She and her team have found T-oligo (nucleotides homologous to the telomere overhang) to be therapeutically effective in lung cancer and melanoma cells and pre-established tumor xenografts by inducing apoptosis and senescence. She is currently attempting to deliver T-oligo as a nanoparticle complexed with a cationic peptide to melanoma tumors in mice.
Lung Cancer: Her project on lung cancer aims to unravel the mechanism of EGFR/c-Met tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) resistance in Non-Small Cell lung cancer by studying the signaling pathways in resistant and parental NSCLC cell lines with and without EGFR TK mutations. Recent studies in her lab demonstrate activation of alternative signaling pathways in resistant cell lines which can be targeted along with EGFR and c-Met pathways to overcome or delay the TKI resistance. Currently, she is also investigating the role of epithelial mesenchymal transition in the development of resistance in NSCLC. Her translational research focuses on identifying the role of biomarkers EGFR/c-Met and key proteins from the mTOR and Wnt signaling pathways, in prognosis of NSCLC patients using immunohistochemistry.
Melanoma: Her cancer research also focuses on melanoma, where she has successfully evaluated the role of c-Met as a molecular target in melanoma. She is currently investigating the mechanism and TKI combination therapies to overcome c-Met and BRAF resistance in wild type and melanoma cell lines with a BRAF mutation.
2) Role of FTO in obesity:
This project aims at identifying the role of FTO in promoting obesity in humans. She has downregulated FTO with siRNA and using a microarray studied affected genes. Dr. Puri has constructed a pathway from the microarray data and is currently identifying key targets. She is investigating the mechanism of how FTO induces obesity. Her recent studies indicate that FTO modulates intracellular energy levels and downstream signaling mechanisms which control energy intake and metabolism.
Fong, J. T., Jacobs, R. J., Moravec, D. N., Uppada, S. B., Botting, G. M., Nlend, M., Puri, N. (2013). Alternative signaling pathways as potential therapeutic targets for overcoming EGFR and c-met inhibitor resistance in non-small cell lung cancer. PloS One, 8(11), e78398. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078398 [doi]
Mulnix, R. E., Pitman, R. T., Retzer, A., Bertram, C., Arasi, K., Crees, Z., Girard, J., Uppada, S. B., Stone, A. L., Puri, N. (2013). hnRNP C1/C2 and pur-beta proteins mediate induction of senescence by oligonucleotides homologous to the telomere overhang. OncoTargets and Therapy, 7, 23-32. doi:10.2147/OTT.S54575 [doi]
Pitman, R. T., Fong, J. T., Billman, P., & Puri, N. (2012). Knockdown of the fat mass and obesity gene disrupts cellular energy balance in a cell-type specific manner. PloS One, 7(6), e38444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038444 [doi]
Pitman, R. T., Wojdyla, L., & Puri, N. (2013). Mechanism of DNA damage responses induced by exposure to an oligonucleotide homologous to the telomere overhang in melanoma. Oncotarget, 4(5), 761-771. doi:1047 [pii]
Puri, N., Pitman, R. T., Mulnix, R. E., Erickson, T., Iness, A. N., Vitali, C., et al. (2014). Non-small cell lung cancer is susceptible to induction of DNA damage responses and inhibition of angiogenesis by telomere overhang oligonucleotides. Cancer Letters, 343(1), 14-23. doi:10.1016/j.canlet.2013.09.010 [doi]
Uppada, S. B., Erickson, T., Wojdyla, L., Moravec, D. N., Song, Z., Cheng, J., Puri, N. (2014). Novel delivery system for T-oligo using a nanocomplex formed with an alpha helical peptide for melanoma therapy. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 9, 43-53. doi:10.2147/IJN.S55133 [doi]