Professor of Pathology and Oncology,
The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center,
Affiliate Faculty, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,
Affiliate Faculty, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
CRB-2, Suite 345
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
1550 Orleans Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: (410) 502-8191
Direct: (410) 955-3511
Fax: (410) 614-0671
Research Interest Statement
Dr. Maitra's research goals are focused on the identification and preclinical validation of rational, cancer-specific therapies for pancreatic cancer. Unlike commonly used cytotoxic agents, "mechanism-based" strategies utilize specific biochemical differences between cancer and normal cells and thus, the effects of chemotherapy are selectively detrimental to cancer cells only. For example, a compound may be lethal to pancreatic cancer cells that have deleted both copies of a particular gene, while normal cells can "bypass" the effects of this drug by retaining one or both copies of the implicated gene. Another broad class of "mechanism-based" therapies that is being pursued in Dr. Maitra's laboratory involves small molecule inhibitors of developmental signaling pathways. These pathways (for example, Notch and Hedgehog) are active during embryonic development but are quiescent in most adult somatic cells. Considerable evidence has now accrued that demonstrates the aberrant re-activation of these developmental signaling pathways in human cancers, including the majority of pancreatic malignancies. Targeting these pathways with specific small molecules provides a powerful avenue for therapy, while potential circumventing toxicities associated with conventional anti-metabolite compounds.
Dr. Maitra is also pursuing high-throughput approaches for identification of abnormal pancreatic cancer genes using cutting edge "gene chip" technologies. These chips allow scientists to query multiple genetic loci, including in some instances, the whole human genome, for abnormalities that are unique to pancreatic cancer but are not present in normal tissues. His third major area of research involves developing novel drug and gene delivery systems for pancreatic cancers, using targeted nanoparticles. Development of such non-viral delivery systems have the potential for enhancing therapeutic efficacy while restricting side effects.
For a full listing of publications, click here to download the cv.