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Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah
Dr. Subbiah examines the molecular basis of pathogenesis of Influenza A and other emerging viruses, investigates recombinant Newcastle virus (an avian virus) to treat human cancer, develops recombinant vaccines for viral diseases and develops novel virus-based nanoparticles for targeted delivery of therapeutics.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer accounts for 7.1 million deaths annually (12.5 % of the global total). Approximately 20 million people suffer from cancer; a figure projected to rise to 30 million in the next 20 years. The current options for treating most cancers include radiation and chemotherapy, with their associated issues of efficacy and quality of life. Cancer therapy using viruses is gaining importance and may be able to circumvent some of these issues.
Dr. Subbiah's program is directed towards genetically modifying a natural tumor selective virus of chickens to treat human and animal cancer. Newcastle disease virus is a major pathogen of chickens and other birds throughout the world. It causes only mild conjunctivitis in humans. With reverse genetic technology, Dr. Subbiah is attempting to create tumor-specific variants of Newcastle disease virus so that it can have a high therapeutic index for various types of cancer. For example, his recently funded project from the U.S. Department of Defense seeks to develop a prostate-specific antigen targeted to Newcastle dise virus to treat prostate cancer. Similarly, the Subbiah research team is in the process of creating tailor-made viruses for various types of human and animal cancer. Dr. Subbiah believes he will be able to address many of the difficulties in current cancer treatment with this approach. Additonally, his lab is exploring novel recombinant DNA based vaccines for major viral diseases of animals and humans, including influenza viruses.