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Oklahoma State University

The official magazine of Oklahoma State University

Advancing Cancer Care for Animals

Monday, December 2, 2019

Ashish Ranjan

Ranjan’s ultrasound research wins almost $2.5 million in new funding from NCI and foundations

An Oklahoma State University program to advance animal cancer treatment has received almost $2.5 million in new research funds.

Ashish Ranjan, BVSc, Ph.D., Kerr Foundation Endowed Chair and associate professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences, leads the Nanomedicine and Targeted Therapy Laboratory at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Currently, surgical resection is the standard of care or first-line treatment of early-stage melanoma,” Dr. Ranjan said. “However, if the cancer spreads (metastasizes) to other organs (liver, kidney, lymph node, etc.), surgical resection is ineffective. For such patients, a combination of radiotherapy and anticancer drugs are often employed, but they cause toxic side effects in normal tissues and inefficient clearance of cancerous cells, resulting in high recurrence and fatality rates in patients. Our research aims to develop noninvasive focused soundwave approaches and immune- activating nanoparticles that induce the immune system to target the cancer.”

A five-year RO1 grant from the National Cancer Institute worth nearly $1.7 million will help Ranjan’s team develop a novel nanoparticle that detects cancer cells by the immune system in combination with focused ultrasound. Additional support from Petco Foundation ($500,000) and Focused Ultrasound Foundations ($200,000) will help Ranjan’s team translate these findings in veterinary patients with spontaneous cancers.

“The role of the immune system in cancer therapy is known, but how to tailor these for optimal therapeutic outcomes requires further investigation. Dr. Ranjan’s research strives to address these in a meaningful and clinical way, which explains the excitement of these funding agencies to support this program,” said Dr. Carlos Risco, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Focused Ultrasound Foundation recently appointed Ranjan to its Veterinary Program Scientific Advisory Board. The RO1 grant was also recommended for the NCI MERIT Award, which is given to select researchers nationally. The MERIT award would allow Dr. Ranjan’s laboratory to receive extended funding for up to seven years of support.

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