Dr. Alexandra Drakaki's primary research interest is to evaluate the role of non-coding RNAs in genitourinary (GU) malignancies, including bladder, prostate and kidney cancers and to develop novel therapeutics targeting these non-coding RNAs.
Non-coding RNAs consist of a novel category of genes that are not translated into proteins and act as regulators of gene expression. The two main categories of non-coding RNAs include primarily the microRNAs and the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules, 18-25 nucleotides long, that act as negative regulators of gene expression through binding in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of coding genes. On the other hand, lncRNAs are >200 nucleotide long, acting as scaffolds and mediators of protein complexes activity.
Both microRNAs and lncRNAs play significant role in oncogenesis through regulation of key signal transduction pathways, such as the PI3K/AKT pathway, the Wnt pathway and cell cycle. Therefore, the goal of Drakaki's research program is to identify the non-coding RNAs that are deregulated in GU cancers and develop chemically modified oligonucleotide inhibitors to manipulate their expression levels. Her ultimate aim is to examine these new drugs in GU preclinical models and evaluate their efficacy in human clinical trials.
Massard C, Gordon MS, Sharma S, Rafii S, Wainberg ZA, Luke J, Curiel TJ, Colon-Otero G, Hamid O, Sanborn RE, O'Donnell PH, Drakaki A, Tan W, Kurland JF, Rebelatto MC, Jin X, Blake-Haskins JA, Gupta A, Segal NH. Safety and Efficacy of Durvalumab (MEDI4736), an Anti-Programmed Cell Death Ligand-1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor, in Patients With Advanced Urothelial Bladder Cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Jun 6. pii: JCO679761. [Epub ahead of print]
Donin N, Filson C, Drakaki A, Tan HJ, Castillo A, Kwan L, Litwin M, Chamie K. Risk of second primary malignancies among cancer survivors in the United States, 1992 through 2008. Cancer. 2016 Jul 5. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30164. [Epub ahead of print]
Drakaki A, Hatziapostolou M, Polytarchou C, Vorvis C, Poultsides GA, Souglakos J, Georgoulias V, Iliopoulos D. Functional microRNA high throughput screening reveals miR-9 as a central regulator of liver oncogenesis by affecting the PPARA-CDH1 pathway. BMC Cancer. 2015 Jul 24;15:542. doi: 10.1186/s12885-015-1562-9.
Drakaki A, McDermott DF. Novel immunotherapies in GU malignancies. Curr Oncol Rep. 2013 Jun;15(3):224-31. doi: 10.1007/s11912-013-0306-8.
Hatziapostolou M, Polytarchou C, Aggelidou E, Drakaki A, Poultsides GA, Jaeger SA, Ogata H, Karin M, Struhl K, Hadzopoulou-Cladaras M, Iliopoulos D. An HNF4-alpha-miRNA inflammatory feedback circuit regulates hepatocellular oncogenesis. Cell. 2011 Dec 9;147(6):1233-47. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.043.