Dr. Ashish Ranjan is the 2018 Regents Distinguished Research Award recipient at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. He and his team conduct cutting edge research centered on the use of device directed nanomedicines to help improve the lives of animals and humans.
“Humans and animals alike suffer from cancer,” said Ranjan. “Some of my own relatives and friends have been affected with this disease. Current therapies available in the veterinary or human settings are associated with significant side effects and do not really result in high survival rates in patients. Veterinary cancers resemble human diseases in many ways. So I thought doing cancer research can allow me to not only figure out new therapies for our vet patients but can also help us translate some of those ideas for human treatment.”
Ranjan leads the Nanomedicine and Targeted Therapy Laboratory. He is an associate professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences and the Kerr Endowed Chair. He earned his BVSc degree (DVM equivalent) from Madras Veterinary College in Chennai, India, and earned a PhD in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences from Virginia Tech.
“We call ourselves a device directed lab that performs bench to bedside research,” he explained. “This means that whatever we are trying to do in the lab, we try to shorten the translational to the patients, in particular, veterinary patients. We are doing a variety of projects that are broadly focused on two areas. The first being cancer and the second being chronic infectious diseases such as non-healing wounds.
“Most of those projects have two elements. One is the nanoparticle that carries drug pillows and the other is the device that provides image guidance for these therapies. By putting the drugs inside a nanoparticle, we reduce toxicities of the drugs and enhance their delivery to a region of interest in a very targeted manner. For example, if a patient is suffering from a non-healing wound, the nanoparticle is targeted to only go to the site where we want it to go. The device can then be utilized to release the pillow with a stimuli (e.g. heat), making it highly targeted and specific in nature.”
Dr. Ranjan is honored to receive the Regents Distinguished Research Award.
“It means a lot to me, to my lab, and everyone who is involved in these projects,” he continued. “It’s a recognition of our effort and also an encouragement to do good science that benefits our patients. We are very thankful to the selection committee and to Oklahoma State University for recognizing us for our ongoing research efforts.”
Ranjan grew up in the eastern part of India close to Calcutta. His family had all kinds of large and small animals and would frequent the veterinary hospital to get their pets treated.
“Since the time I was a kid, I always had a love of animals and becoming a veterinarian came naturally,” he said. “While I was in vet school, I would often come across diseases that had a poor prognosis and patients didn’t have many options. There was always this need for new therapeutics that could help address some of those disease issues. So I thought pursuing a career that was more than conventional medicine, such as high end research, would allow me to discover new drugs and new therapeutics to help our patient population.”
Today he and his team are starting to achieve some interesting outcomes from the research in the lab.
“We have had some early successes with what we are doing in the lab. This gives us hope that our candidate drug agents may help bridge the gap from bench to bedside. We are encouraged by our early success and feasibility demonstrations and are looking forward to studying the therapeutics in clinical settings.”
For more information on Dr. Ranjan’s laboratory and on-going research, visit the Nanomedicine and Targeted Therapy Laboratory.