Dr Ashwin Unnikrishnan: Beyond Azacitidine, Investigating new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of MDS
Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) is one of the most common haematological malignancies in developed societies with ageing populations, including in Australia. MDS is characterised by impaired peripheral blood cell production and abnormal blood cells in the bone marrow. The drug azacitidine (AZA) is currently the best available treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), yet only approximately half of treated patients respond to the drug, and others eventually suffer relapse. There is an important and urgent clinical need for developing better therapeutic options beyond AZA in MDS.
Dr Unnikrishnan will investigate mechanisms by which azacitidine inhibits MDS cells and identify cellular pathways and features that are modulated by azacitidine treatment. This study will provide insight into why some patients do not respond and lay the groundwork for development of alternative therapeutic strategies.
Ashwin is a biomedical research scientist and Head of the Molecular Mechanisms in Leukaemia laboratory at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, University of New South Wales. My research interests in haematological cancers, and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in particular, are very strongly geared towards translational medical outcomes. Ashwin’s lab uses a combination of genomics, epigenomics, molecular biology and stem cell biology techniques to understand the mechanisms driving leukaemia, as well as those underpinning resistance to therapy.