- Pancreatic Diseases
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Early detection of Pancreatic Diseases
Current Research: My laboratory research program is focused on studying pancreatic diseases in particular pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) which is one of the most deadly human malignancies, with dismal long-term survival and limited advances in treatment. The long-term goals of my research laboratory are to develop novel strategies for the detection, prevention, and treatment of PDAC and pancreatitis via uncovering unique mechanisms related to the initiation of these diseases. Towards this goal we have shown that the molecule integrin alpha6beta4, the enzyme Cathepsin E (CTSE), and pH-sensitive imaging probes are all early biomarkers of PDAC development. We have been engaged in the development of novel imaging probes that have the potential to detect and treat pancreas containing early lesions of PDAC using the enzymatic activity of CTSE using pre-clinical mouse models. This technology applies to any other diseases that express CTSE at high levels which is the case of pancreatic cancer.
We are also interested in the prevention of obesity-associated tumor development. Obesity has been associated with an increased risk of cancer development, in particular, PDAC. Obesity rates in adults and children have also skyrocketed during the past 2 decades. Therefore, it is critical that we begin to understand the molecular mechanisms of how obesity promotes cancer development. In an effort to discover alternative methods of studying obesity and its relationship to PDAC development, we recently developed a mouse model of obesity-associated PDAC which we have used to study some of the mechanisms that link obesity and PDAC.