Vivek Sharma has completed his Masters of Research (MRes) in Molecular Oncology from Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, UK and M.Sc. in Biotechnology from Department of Biotechnology, Punjabi University, Patiala (Pb.), India. He is currently working as Assistant Professor at Division of Cancer Research, Department of Biotechnology, Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Mohali (Pb.). He has published papers in reputed journals and national and international conferences in UK and India and has attended a number of national level workshops. Vivek has won a Graduate Entrepreneur Award from the University of Liverpool, the UK as a result of which he is developing an enterprise focused on bringing together basic elements of Ayurvedic sciences and contemporary biological sciences.
Cancer metastasis is a multi-faceted process involving different classes of intracellularly and extracellularly acting proteins paralyzing the natural cellular machinery. It enables cancerous cells to evade, invade and grow uncontrollably leading to altogether newer type of microenvironment which is completely different from the natural cellular environment. As per the principles of Ayurveda (the Indian system of medicine and the oldest system of medicine known) cancer is considered as a disease that affects all the three attributes of the human body (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) responsible for maintaining physiological balance of the body. In modern context, Ayurveda also gives evidences of the dynamic microenvironment of cancerous cells. Our research group is focused on re-establishing the concepts of Ayurveda using modern tools of molecular biology and bioinformatics to experimentally prove the holistic viewpoint of this science which can lead to solutions of many current day health problems.
In the current study we are screening novel drug candidates of natural origin for metastasis associated proteins S100A4, actin and tubulin. We have used in-silico tools Autodock4 and GROMACS for screening of identified drug compounds for S100A4 protein and Autodock1.5.6 to screen the compounds for structural interaction with actin and tubulin. Our results have shown that all three ligands have stable interactions with S100A4, actin and tubulin with number of interactions sites, varied distances and binding energies. These results have given us a positive prediction about their potential anti-cancerous effect.
Ayurveda believes that besides the structure function relationship between the drug and the target, there is a holistic effect of the drug on the system owing to the potency of the drug and the potency of the biological system (defined in variety of ways in Ayurveda). In Ayurvedic system the medicinal formulations are usually the crude plant extracts as compared to single pure compounds in modern medicine which remains a challenge to understand and validate as per our contemporary understanding of biological systems. To understand this, we are following up the in-silico study by in-vitro studies where we have obtained the plant material and prepared the crude extracts using Soxhlet extraction. Followed by this we are screening the crude extracts and the corresponding active pure compounds on human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-435s) having specific mutations for actin and tubulin gene. The purpose of comparative analysis between the crude extract and pure compounds is to know and define the better potential anti-cancer and anti-metastatic effect and to establish a preliminary understanding of Ayurveda concepts with respect to the action of drugs. Our results will further be helpful for designing more specific and detailed experiments for using our identified compounds as drug leads in cancer treatment in a personalized way or to understand Ayurvedic concepts via modern tools.