Wednesday, June 30, 2021

By Karen Villarreal

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV School of Medicine was recently awarded a $1,453,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to research aggressive and late-stage prostate cancers.

The principal investigator on the project, Dr. Murali Mohan Yallapu, associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology in the School of Medicine, has been an active cancer researcher for more than 14 years. Through this grant, Yallapu’s team will continue research on nanotechnology-based clinical drugs to combat prostate cancer, especially advanced forms that are resistant to hormone therapy and other established treatments.  

This successfully funded project, entitled “MicroRNA-205 Nanoparticle System Circumvents Docetaxel Resistance in Prostate Cancer” supports his latest research for the next four years.

“Despite recent advances in diagnostic techniques and treatment modalities, cancer remains the second leading cause of mortality in the United States,” said Yallapu. “Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer for men in the United States and in Texas. With survival rates varying throughout the U.S., it is important to initiate new research to combat this global health concern.”

Yallapu’s research focus is on the tumors that have built up resistance to clinical drugs. He said the development of resistance to therapeutic drugs is a major obstacle in clinical outcome.



By identifying a novel MicroRNA-based approach, Yallapu’s team is working toward developing improvements to current chemotherapies for prostate cancer that is based on nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of atoms and molecules for specific goals; in this case, to optimize drug delivery to specific tumor cells that have shown resistance to other drugs.

Yallapu is using a novel and patented magnetic nanoparticle delivery system to deliver MicroRNA-205, which has been shown to have potent chemosensitization effects on cells.

“This study develops a safe chemotherapy regimen for drug-resistant prostate tumors in a cost-effective and efficient manner,” said Yallapu. “It will also provide useful knowledge on the long-term management of the growing population of survivors of prostate cancer.”



Primarily a research grant, the project will also include training for doctoral students and improving research facilities within the UTRGV School of Medicine.

Yallapu and his team also collaborated with colleagues in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology that included Dr. Subhash Chauhan, Dr. Meena Jaggi, Dr. Bilal Hafeez, Dr. Sheema Khan, and Dr. Manish Tripathi.

“I’m grateful for this support, both from my colleagues and HHS,” said Yallapu. “With this funding and collaboration, we will learn more about the impact of this novel nanotechnology-based approach to efficient management of prostate cancer.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.