Researcher Spotlight: Rahul Lakhotia, MBBS
National Institutes of Health
Indolent lymphomas frequently require multiple lines of treatment as the disease recurs; the frequency of treatment makes it important to balance efficacy with potential toxicities (side effects). Dr. Lakhotia’s LCRMP project tests a new combination of venetoclax, a BCL2 inhibitor already approved for certain CLL patients, with rituximab (Rituxan) and Hu5F9-G4, a macrophage checkpoint inhibitor, which works by disrupting the function of macrophages, a component of the An abnormal mass or swelling of tissue, that can occur anywhere in the body. microenvironment that play a role in Abnormal cell growth that cannot be controlled by the body's natural defenses. Cancerous cells can grow and eventually form tumors. cell growth. “Being a macrophage A drug that prevents cancer cells from suppressing immune responses., it doesn’t have the adverse effects associated with immunecheckpoint inhibitors,” Dr. Lakhotia says. “We hypothesize that this combination will be more effective than any of the drugs given individually, and due to their non-overlapping side effect profile, the a specific combination of drugs, their doses and their schedules of administration. will be tolerated well.”
Currently a Hematology/Oncology Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Dr. Lakhotia began his medical training with an MBBS (MD equivalent) from Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital in Mumbai, India, before residency at Medstar Washington Hospital Center/ Georgetown University Hospital, where he was also Chief Resident. He first encountered lymphoma during residency, when a patient who seemed to have a rare autoimmune disease turned out to have DLBCL in their ovary. “As I learned more about the disease, I was deeply intrigued with the varied clinical manifestations and the complexity and heterogeneity of the various lymphoproliferative disorders,” he says. Now managing a variety of B and A type of white blood cell that participates in immune responses by destroying harmful substances or cells. lymphoma patients at the NIH, Dr. Lakhotia works closely with Mark Roschewski, MD who he considers a role model for caring for lymphoma patients on various clinical research protocols.
Dr. Lakhotia is hoping his participation in the LCRMP will be beneficial to both his project and his career. “The LCRMP research plan is my first treatment protocol which I am developing with my mentor. Since it is at an early The extent of cancer in the body, including whether the disease has spread from the original site to other body parts., participation in the LCRMP will provide me with valuable feedback on how to maximize the potential of this combination therapy,” he says, adding “Working at the NIH… the fellows don’t get a lot of experience in grant writing. Participation in LCRMP small groups and coursework focusing on grant writing will further help me in advancing this skill, a necessary requirement for being an independent investigator.” He adds, “If in the next ten years’ time, the research I contribute to helps patients in a meaningful way, I would be overjoyed.