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prof.dr. J. Prakash (Jai)

Full Professor - Engineered Therapeutics

About Me

I am a pharmaceutical and entrepreneurial scientist who has a passion to develop engineered therapeutics which are beyond the state-of-the-art therapeutics. My major focus ares are fibrosis and tumor microenvironment. I combine multiple disciplines of peptide chemistry, nanomedicine, molecular biology and bioengineering tools to address challenges of these complex pathologies. 

I have an educational background in Pharmacology and Targeted Drug Delivery. I obtained PhD (cum laude) in 2006 from University of Groningen (The Netherlands) to design drug targeting strategies against kidney fibrosis. I then worked as a Vice President – Preclinical Research at BiOrion Technologies with a joint position at the University of Groningen. In 2011, I joined Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm as Forskarassistent (Assistant Professor) by receiving several prestigious grants Swedish Cancer Foundation grant, Marie Curie Career Integration Grant and Swedish Research Council young researcher grant. I set up a team to research on finding new targets in the tumor microenvironment, in particular in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Then I was offered a Tenure-Track professor position at University of Twente to set up the new line of tumor microenvironment and targeted therapeutics. In the past years, I have gained unique expertise in finding therapeutic targets in CAFs and immune cells and cell-specific targeting strategies to re-program the tumor microenvironment. I have set up a team to develop 3D bioengineered tumor models to test novel engineered therapeutics. In 2019, I visited School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in Harvard University for a few months and initiated new research lines and research collaborations.

Based on my inventions, I have founded a spin-off company ScarTec Therapeutics, which is developing novel peptide therapeutics for the treatment of organ fibrosis and tumor stroma. ScarTec has received NWO Take-off phase-1, phase-2 and H2020 SME phase-1 funding.

Besides this, I am currently serving as the President of Controlled Release Society (CRS) chapter for BeNeLux and France region.

Expertise

Chemistry
Drug
Stellate Crystal
Medicine & Life Sciences
Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts
Fibrosis
Hepatic Stellate Cells
Liver Cirrhosis
Neoplasms
Pancreatic Stellate Cells

Ancillary Activities

  • ScarTec Therapeutics
    ScarTec Therapeutics

Research

The lab is carrying out dynamic inter-disciplinary research in the field of peptide therapeutics, cell-specific targeted delivery and nanomedicine for the indications in the field of fibrotic diseases and (immuno)-oncology. 

In recent years, the significance of fibrosis in solid tumors has been highlighted in driving the tumor progression, invasion and metastasis. The crosstalk between tumor cells and stromal cells such as cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), immune cells such as tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) as well as extracellular matrix (ECM) is essential to maintain and stimulate the tumor growth and progression. The lab is, on the one hand, uncovering the underlying biology of tumor–stroma interaction, while on the other hand, developing innovative technologies to target specific tumor stromal cells to develop new therapeutics. 

 The lab has the following major research themes – 

  1. Understanding the crosstalk between different cell types within the tumor microenvironment, especially focused on fibroblasts, macrophages and matrix interaction. We have recently investigated the role of several therapeutic targets such as intergrin alpha5 and alpha11 which are involved in these crosstalks. 
  2. Peptide technologies as therapeutics to re-program the tumor microenvironment in order to enhance anti-tumour effect of chemotherapy – the lab has recently developed novel peptidomimetic against alpha5 which has led to the startup company ScarTec Therapeutics BV.
  3. Targeted nanomedicine to deliver therapeutic molecules (e.g. microRNA delivery, protein and peptide delivery) to specific cells within the tumor microenvironment to treat cancer. 
  4. Nanotheranostic approaches to probe the stromal cells and immune cells within the tumour microenvironment using novel targeting ligands with a goal of personalized medicine.
  5. 3D Bioengineering technologies to emulate the tumor microenvironment (e.g. multicellular tumor spheroids, tumor-on-chip models, 3D bioprinted tumor models). We have developed 3D heterospheroid tumor model to study nanomedicine and recently developed a novel 3D bioprinted mini-brain model.

Key Publications

  1. Kuninty, P. R., Binnemars-Postma K.A., Jarray A., Pednekar, K.P., Heinrich, M.A., Pijffers, H., ten Hoopen, H., Storm, G., van Hoogevest, P., den Otter, W., & Prakash J. (2022) Engineering "tail-flipping" nanoliposomes to alter functionality of alternatively-activated macrophages in tumors: a novel biomimicry approach. Nature Communications (accepted). (Impact factor: 14.9)
  2. Kuninty, P. R., Bansal, R., S., D. G., Mardhian, D. F., Schnittert, J., van Baarlen, J., Storm, G., Bijlsma, M., van Laarhoven, Metselaar, J. M., Kuppen, P. J. K., Vahrmeijer, A., Ostman, A., Sier, C. F. M. & Prakash, J. (2019) ITGA5 inhibition in pancreatic stellate cells attenuates desmoplasia and potentiates efficacy of chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer. Science Advances 4;5(9):eaax2770. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax2770. (Impact factor: 14.1)
  3. Heinrich MA, Bansal R, Lammers T, Zhang YS, Schiffelers RM, Prakash J. (2019) 3D-Bioprinted Mini-Brain: A Glioblastoma Model to Study cellular interactions and therapeutics. Advanced Materials. Apr;31(14):e1806590. (Impact factor: 30.1)
  4. Heinrich MA, Mostafa, AMRH, Morton J, Hawinkels LJAC, Prakash J. Translating complexity and heterogeneity of pancreatic tumor: 3D in vitro to in vivo models. Adv Drug Del Rev. 174:265-2. (Impact factor: 15.4)
  5. Rodrigues, J. , Heinrich, M. A. , Teixeira, L. M. , & Prakash, J. (2020) 3D In Vitro Model (R)evolution: Unveiling Tumor–Stroma Interactions. Trends in cancer. doi.org/10.1016/j.trecan.2020.10.009 (Impact factor: 8.8)
  6. Schnittert J, Bansal R, van Baarlen J, Ostman A, Prakash J. (2019) Integrin alpha11 in pancreatic stellate cells regulates tumor stroma interaction in pancreatic cancer. FASEB J May;33(5):6609-6621. (Impact factor: 5.0)
  7. Mardhian D, Storm G, Mishra DP, Bansal R, Prakash J. (2018) Nano-targeted relaxin impairs fibrosis and improves the efficacy of gemcitabine in vivo. J Control Release28;290:1-10 (Impact factor: 9.8)

      Publications

      Recent
      Rimal, R., Desai, P., Daware, R., Hosseinnejad, A. , Prakash, J. , Lammers, T., & Singh, S. (2022). Cancer-associated fibroblasts: Origin, function, imaging, and therapeutic targeting. Advanced drug delivery reviews, 189, [114504]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2022.114504
      Day, N. B., Dalhuisen, R., Loomis, N. E., Adzema, S. G. , Prakash, J., & Shields IV, C. W. (2022). Tissue-adhesive hydrogel for multimodal drug release to immune cells in skin. Acta biomaterialia, 150, 211-220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2022.07.053
      Calejo, I. , Heinrich, M. A., Zambito, G., Mezzanotte, L. , Prakash, J. , & Teixeira, L. M. (2022). Advancing Tumor Microenvironment Research by Combining Organs-on-Chips and Biosensors. In Microfluidics and Biosensors in Cancer Research: Applications in Cancer Modeling and Theranostics (pp. 171-203). (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology; Vol. 1379). Springer Gabler. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04039-9_7
      Prakash, J. (2021). Integrin binding peptide and use of the same. (Patent No. JP2021101719).
      Heinrich, M. A. , Mostafa, A. M. R. H., Morton, J. P., Hawinkels, L. J. A. C. , & Prakash, J. (2021). Translating complexity and heterogeneity of pancreatic tumor: 3D in vitro to in vivo models. Advanced drug delivery reviews, 174, 265-293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2021.04.018
      Hassan, S. , Heinrich, M., Cecen, B. , Prakash, J., & Zhang, Y. S. (2020). Biomaterials for on-chip organ systems. In Biomaterials for Organ and Tissue Regeneration: New Technologies and Future Prospects (pp. 669-707). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-102906-0.00019-2
      Mostafa, A. M. R. H. , Bansal, R. , & Prakash, J. (2020). Targeting Fibroblasts in Fibrosis and Cancer. In J. Brenneman, & M. R. Iyer (Eds.), Anti-fibrotic Drug Discovery (pp. 307-339). (RSC Drug Discovery Series; Vol. 2020-January, No. 73). Royal Society of Chemistry. https://doi.org/10.1039/9781788015783-00307
      Schnittert, J. , Bansal, R. , Mardhian, D. F., van Baarlen, J., Östman, A. , & Prakash, J. (2019). Integrin α11 in pancreatic stellate cells regulates tumor stroma interaction in pancreatic cancer. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 33(5), 6609-6621. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.201802336R
      Heinrich, M. A., Liu, W., Jimenez, A., Yang, J., Akpek, A., Liu, X., Pi, Q., Mu, X., Hu, N., Schiffelers, R. M. , Prakash, J., Xie, J., & Zhang, Y. S. (2019). 3D Bioprinting: from Benches to Translational Applications. Small, 15(23), [1805510]. https://doi.org/10.1002/smll.201805510
      Akcora, B. Ö., Dathathri, E. , Ortiz-Perez, A. , Gabriël, A. V. , Storm, G. , Prakash, J. , & Bansal, R. (2019). TG101348, a selective JAK2 antagonist, ameliorates hepatic fibrogenesis in vivo. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 33(8), 9466-9475. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.201900215RR
      Other Contributions


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          Media

          Volkskrant Newspaper (Sep 2019): Verzwakte muur om kankercellen biedt chemo een kans

           https://www.volkskrant.nl/cs-bf0bd786

          Tubantia Newspaper,   “UT sets new steps in the treatment of pancreatic cancer”,  https://www.tubantia.nl/regio/ut-zet-flinke-stappen-in-behandeling-alvleesklierkanker~a2caecdc/

          In the press

          News on utwente.nl

          Contact Details

          Visiting Address

          University of Twente
          Drienerlolaan 5
          7522 NB Enschede
          The Netherlands

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          Mailing Address

          University of Twente
          P.O. Box 217
          7500 AE Enschede
          The Netherlands

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