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Scientific Officer

Dr. Ujjwala Warawdekar

Scientific Officer 'F'

Honors and Recognitions

  • Sister Institute Associate, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA
  • DBT Research Associate
  • PhD Research Fellowship (CSIR, India)

Research Interests

  • Role of cell communication proteins   and ECM proteins in cancer and the efficacy of cancer therapy.
  • Circulating biomarkers in cancer and assessment in the context of invasion, tumour metastasis, disease prognosis and response to therapy.

RESEARCH

Evaluating biomarkers in body fluids could be promising as it provides opportunities for improving the management of cancer patients by enhancing the efficiency of detection as well as efficacy of treatment .Several potential biomarkers have been   explored for both detection as well as gauging efficacy of treatment, yet there has been little success in establishing a single individual marker as a disease indicator for either. Molecules explored have been  proteins, nucleic acids, metabolites, sugars  and in recent years  cells [CTCs, CSCs] isolated from body fluids for early detection or prognostication of cancer.

A tumour is malignant only after it invades the surrounding tissue by degrading the extracellular components. The appearance or elevation of the fragments of these components in the body fluids viz. plasma and urine should indicate the existence of malignancy and provide the earliest cue to the presence of a malignant tumour. One of the major extracellular matrix proteins is cellular Fibronectin [cFN], and we have shown that in both Gastrointestinal and Head and Neck cancers, cFN is elevated in the plasma of   more than 60% of the patients and exists in the fragmented form. This work has been cited by various researchers in the field and has exemplified the use of tissue /ECM proteins in circulation as useful biomarkers.

To shift gears from molecules to cells, Circulating Tumour Cells [CTCs] and Disseminated Tumour Cells [DTCs] can be used as biomarkers for prognostication and response to therapy. However, monitoring CTCs can be a challenge as they can be rare in circulation, as also due to tumour heterogeneity, the same tumour markers or epithelial proteins may not be expressed in all the tumours of a particular malignancy. Our studies have identified markers in the primary tissue of Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma (NSCLC) to guide isolation of CTCs from the peripheral blood of patients with lung cancer. This data serves as a prelude and emphasizes the importance of selecting markers expressed in the primary tumour tissue to facilitate and enable enumeration of CTCs and is being cited in literature since. Further, we have established a protocol for enumeration and characterization of CTCs from patients with breast cancer. The methodology utilized density gradient and immunomagnetic enrichment for CTC isolation and quantitation was achieved using Flow Cytometry. The CTC numbers were validated using QRT-PCR for specific genes and CTCs were visualized using confocal microscopy. The laboratory has recently completed an interesting study on assessing the impact of pre-operative hydroxyprogesterone on serial levels of CTCs in patients undergoing surgery for operable breast cancer. Attempts at culturing CTCs from patients with metastatic breast cancer were also undertaken and one of the major stumbling blocks was the fund crunch due to which studies could not be pursued.

We have contributed to developing methodology for isolating proteins from Trizol fractions enabling a systems biology approach for the study of the genome, proteome and transcriptome.

Ongoing Research Projects

  • project1

    Enrichment, Isolation and Culture of Circulating Tumour Cells obtained from patien…

    Enrichment, Isolation and Culture of Circulating Tumour Cells obtained from patients with metastatic or locally… more

  • project1

    An assessment of the effect of preoperative hydroxyprogesterone on serial levels o…

    An assessment of the effect of preoperative hydroxyprogesterone on serial levels of circulatin… more

  • project1

    Estimating impact of hydroxyprogesterone on levels of circulating MiRNA in patient…

    Estimating impact of hydroxyprogesterone on levels of circulating MiRNA in patients undergoing surgery for opera… more

Lab Members

PUBLICATIONS

Contact

Office Contact

Dr. Ujjwala Warawdekar

KS-326 A , Advance Centre for Treatment Research & Education in Cancer, Tata Memorial Centre, (ACTREC), Plot No. 1 & 2, Sector 22, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai-410210. Maharashtra India.+91 (022) 2740 5000/ 6873 5000 Extn-5418 uwarawdekar@actrec.gov.in Lab Website
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