Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy, MD, MRCP
|Award Name||CCTS Pilot - Center for Women's Health|
Clinical Researcher to Seek Innovative Treatments
When Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy, MD, MRCP, came to the United States from the United Kingdom, her intent was to specialize in bone marrow transplantation.
“But when I worked with Dr. (Charles) Shapiro caring for breast cancer patients, I realized that this was the group of patients I wanted to work with,” she explains.
“I completely felt at home with these patients. They are mothers and wives, and, in general, they are a very motivated group of patients,” she adds.
Ramaswamy was drawn in by the motivation and passion these breast cancer patients had for improving not just their own health, but that of other women. It’s a passion she now shares.
After her oncology fellowship, Ramaswamy decided to stay at Ohio State because our academic medical center allows her to combine her clinical and scientific talents – the opportunity to deliver the best quality care while also seeking innovative ways to improve that care.
For most breast cancer patients, hormone therapy offers the best choice of treatments. “The majority of breast tumors are hormone-receptor positive,” says Ramaswamy, explaining that the development of these tumors is dependent on the female hormone estrogen.
For more than 30 years, the drug tamoxifen, which interferes with the activity of estrogen, has proven effective in the treatment of these “hormonereceptor positive” tumors.
“Hormone therapy is a very positive treatment that is tolerable for the patient,” she adds. However, approximately one-third of breast tumors are not responsive to hormone therapy, and many of those that are initially responsive to treatment later become resistant.
As a clinical researcher in Hematology/Oncology, Ramaswamy is investigating new methods to identify which breast tumors are resistant to hormone therapy. By understanding what makes theses tumors resistant, researchers may be able to develop alternative therapies. For example, scientists might be able to develop a co-agent that would increase the ability of these tumors to respond to hormone therapies.
Thus far, Ramaswamy has worked closely with the research teams of Samson Jacob, PhD, and Sarmila Majumder, PhD, of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. She has also worked with Charles Shapiro, MD, director of Breast Medical Oncology, and Richard Love, MD, Hematology/Oncology.
Using her seed grant from the Center for Women’s Health and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Ramaswamy will begin to establish her own research program. She will compare the microRNA of tissue from tumors treated with tamoxifen with those that have not been treated. The goal is to determine how microRNA, a regulator of genetic expression, reflects a tumor’s response to hormone therapy such as tamoxifen.
The knowledge gained could serve as a prelude to a prospective clinical trial to determine if microRNA profiling can predict tamoxifen resistance and if a co-agent could alter this resistance, she says.
Ramaswamy says the funding provided by the new Ohio State centers is critically important in helping young scientists establish the baseline data needed for larger funding, such as that from the National Cancer Institute or pharmaceutical companies.
By promoting the growth of our own scientific teams, Ohio State is also advancing our cancer program’s goals of becoming a Center of Excellence for Breast Cancer, increasing the number of clinical trials and clinical trial accruals, and driving scientific investigation into new methods to care for women with breast cancer.
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