Research: Investigator Profile
Annual Report - 2005-2006
By Mary Jane Schier
The passion with which Anil K. Sood, M.D., conducts translational research stems from losing his father to aggressive prostate cancer almost a decade ago.
“As a surgeon, I can help some patients, but it’s through research focused on understanding the biology of cancer that we’ll find the real answers to this disease,” states Sood, professor in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology.
Since joining M. D. Anderson in 2002, Sood has combined innovative laboratory research with performing complex surgical procedures and teaching graduate students about cell signaling pathways. His research involves evaluating the effect of neuroendocrine stress hormones on ovarian cancer growth and progression. To do this, he is developing novel anti-vascular therapeutic approaches and designing strategies for delivering short interfering RNA (siRNA) to halt production of selected proteins in ovarian cancer cells.
“siRNA is a technology we can use to silence genes, shutting down production of a harmful protein known as focal adhesion kinase, which helps ovarian cancer cells survive and spread,” Sood explains.
In a mouse-model experiment, Sood’s team demonstrated that microscopic fatty envelopes called liposomes can be loaded with siRNA and injected into mice in which human ovarian cancer cells are growing. Animals receiving the liposomal siRNA had reductions in tumor weight, ranging from 44% to 72% compared with mice in control groups.
“We hope to develop this approach for clinical use in the future,” Sood says.
Sood’s interest in biology began as a boy in India, where his grandfather was a community physician. After receiving his medical degree from the University of North Carolina Medical School in 1991 , he completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Florida’s Shands Teaching Hospital and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
“The spirit of collaboration and the resources are wonderful at M. D. Anderson,” Sood notes. “I have unique opportunities to develop new approaches, starting with an original idea and taking it through the lab to animal studies and into the clinic.”