2017 Recipient — Sunila Pradeep, PhD

Sunila Pradeep, PhD

Epigenetic Causes of Acquired Resistance to Anti-VEGF Therapy

Project Summary

Anti-angiogenic therapy with bevacizumab along with chemotherapy is a useful and approved regimen in the U.S.; however, most tumors rapidly adapt and develop resistance to such drugs. To understand the underlying mechanisms, we have established in vitro and in vivo model systems of adaptive resistance to anti-VEGF therapy. Our preliminary data suggest that epigenetic changes in the tumor microenvironment play a significant role in such resistance. Importantly, our data suggest that resistance to anti-VEGF therapy can be reversed by demethylating agents. To our knowledge, the proposed work is the first to combine epigenetic analysis of human ovarian cancer samples with biological studies that combine demethylation agents with bevacizumab. This study may allow us to identify the predictive markers for response to anti-VEGF therapies and demonstrate the potential use of demethylating drugs for reversing resistance to anti-angiogenesis therapies. Concurrently, our results may help us to improve the use the anti-VEGF treatment in cancer patients by finding the right combination.

Areas of Research:


Dr. Sunila Pradeep is an Assistant Professor in the Department of genecology Oncology at Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Pradeep completed her Ph.D. in Immunology. Dr. Pradeep joined as a postdoctoral fellow in the Weizmann institute of science, Israel, were she worked on developing novel strategies to inhibit angiogenesis. Then she joined with Dr. Anil Sood at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and worked on hematological metastasis of ovarian cancer and the mechanisms to overcome chemoresistance for the treatment of ovarian cancer patients. Her work was recognized by Liz Tilberis, Early Career Development Award, OCRFA, and Caring Together, NY Ovarian Cancer Synergy grant from the Foundation for Women’s Cancer Research.  

Dr. Pradeep’s research interest is centered on developing strategies to overcome immune suppression, drug resistance and identifying novel combination therapy to inhibit the progression and metastasis of women’s cancer.