Honors & Awards

  • Postdoctoral fellowship, National Science Council, Taiwan
  • Postdoctoral research fellowship, Texas A&M University
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Stanford University

Education & Certifications

  • PhD, National Chung Cheng University, Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • M.Sc., Kakatiya University, Organic Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry
  • B.Sc., Kakatiya University, Chemistry and Biology


Professional Affiliations and Activities

  • Consulting Editor, Journal of Drug Design, Development and Therapy (2015 - Present)
  • Member, World Molecular Imaging Society (2012 - Present)
  • Member, American Chemical society (2010 - Present)


All Publications

  • Gemcitabine and Antisense-microRNA Co-encapsulated PLGA-PEG Polymer Nanoparticles for Hepatocellular Carcinoma Therapy. ACS applied materials & interfaces Devulapally, R., Foygel, K., Sekar, T. V., Willmann, J. K., Paulmurugan, R. 2016; 8 (49): 33412?22


    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is highly prevalent, and the third most common cause of cancer-associated deaths worldwide. HCC tumors respond poorly to chemotherapeutic anticancer agents due to inherent and acquired drug resistance, and low drug permeability. Targeted drug delivery systems with significant improvement in therapeutic efficiency are needed for successful HCC therapy. Here, we report the results of a technique optimized for the synthesis and formulation of antisense-miRNA-21 and gemcitabine (GEM) co-encapsulated PEGylated-PLGA nanoparticles (NPs) and their in vitro therapeutic efficacy in human HCC (Hep3B and HepG2) cells. Water-in-oil-in-water (w/o/w) double emulsion method was used to coload antisense-miRNA-21 and GEM in PEGylated-PLGA-NPs. The cellular uptake of NPs displayed time dependent increase of NPs concentration inside the cells. Cell viability analyses in HCC (Hep3B and HepG2) cells treated with antisense-miRNA-21 and GEM co-encapsulated NPs demonstrated a nanoparticle concentration dependent decrease in cell proliferation, and the maximum therapeutic efficiency was attained in cells treated with nanoparticles co-encapsulated with antisense-miRNA-21 and GEM. Flow cytometry analysis showed that control NPs and antisense-miRNA-21-loaded NPs are not cytotoxic to both HCC cell lines, whereas treatment with free GEM and GEM-loaded NPs resulted in ?9% and ?15% apoptosis, respectively. Cell cycle status analysis of both cell lines treated with free GEM or NPs loaded with GEM or antisense-miRNA-21 displayed a significant cell cycle arrest at the S-phase. Cellular pathway analysis indicated that Bcl2 expression was significantly upregulated in GEM treated cells, and as expected, PTEN expression was noticeably upregulated in cells treated with antisense-miRNA-21. In summary, we successfully synthesized PEGylated-PLGA nanoparticles co- encapsulated with antisense-miRNA-21 and GEM. These co-encapsulated nanoparticles revealed increased treatment efficacy in HCC cells, compared to cells treated with either antisense-miRNA-21- or GEM-loaded NPs at equal concentration, indicating that down-regulation of endogenous miRNA-21 function can reduce HCC cell viability and proliferation in response to GEM treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsami.6b08153

    View details for PubMedID 27960411

  • Molecular Imaging Biosensor Monitors p53 Sumoylation in Cells and Living Mice. Analytical chemistry Sekar, T. V., Foygel, K., Devulapally, R., Kumar, V., Malhotra, S., Massoud, T. F., Paulmurugan, R. 2016; 88 (23): 11420?28


    Small molecule mediated stabilization of p53 tumor suppressor protein through sumoylation is a promising new strategy for improving cancer chemotherapy. A molecular tool that monitors p53 sumoylation status and expedites screening for drugs that enhance p53 sumoylation would be beneficial. We report a molecularly engineered reporter fragment complementation biosensor based on optical imaging of Firefly luciferase (FLuc), to quantitatively image p53 sumoylation and desumoylation in cells and living mice. We initially characterized this biosensor by successfully imaging sumoylation of several target proteins, achieving significant FLuc complementation for ER? (p < 0.01), p53 (p < 0.005), FKBP12 (p < 0.03), ID (p < 0.03), and HDAC1 (p < 0.002). We then rigorously tested the sensitivity and specificity of the biosensor using several variants of p53 and SUMO1, including deletion mutants, and those with modified sequences containing the SUMO-acceptor site of target proteins. Next we evaluated the performance of the biosensor in HepG2 cells by treatment with ginkgolic acid, a drug that reduces p53 sumoylation, as well as trichostatin A, a potential inducer of p53 sumoylation by enhancement of its nuclear export. Lastly, we demonstrated the in vivo utility of this biosensor in monitoring and quantifying the effects of these drugs on p53 sumoylation in living mice using bioluminescence imaging. Adoption of this biosensor in future high throughput drug screening has the important potential to help identify new and repurposed small molecules that alter p53 sumoylation, and to preclinically evaluate candidate anticancer drugs in living animals.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b02048

    View details for PubMedID 27934110

  • Formulation of Anti-miR-21 and 4-Hydroxytamoxifen Co-loaded Biodegradable Polymer Nanoparticles and Their Antiproliferative Effect on Breast Cancer Cells MOLECULAR PHARMACEUTICS Devulapally, R., Sekar, T. V., Paulmurugan, R. 2015; 12 (6): 2080-2092


    Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. The majority of breast tumors are estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and hormone-dependent. Neoadjuvant anti-estrogen therapy has been widely employed to reduce tumor mass prior to surgery. Tamoxifen is a broadly used anti-estrogen for early and advanced ER+ breast cancers in women and the most common hormone treatment for male breast cancer. 4-Hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT) is an active metabolite of tamoxifen that functions as an estrogen receptor antagonist and displays higher affinity for estrogen receptors than that of tamoxifen and its other metabolites. MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is a small noncoding RNA of 23 nucleotides that regulates several apoptotic and tumor suppressor genes and contributes to chemoresistance in numerous cancers, including breast cancer. The present study investigated the therapeutic potential of 4-OHT and anti-miR-21 coadministration in an attempt to combat tamoxifen resistance, a common problem often encountered in anti-estrogen therapy. A biodegradable poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide)-block-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLGA-b-PEG-COOH) copolymer was utilized as a carrier to codeliver 4-OHT and anti-miR-21 to ER+ breast cancer cells. 4-OHT and anti-miR-21 co-loaded PLGA-b-PEG nanoparticles (NPs) were developed using emulsion-diffusion evaporation (EDE) and water-in-oil-in-water (w/o/w) double emulsion methods. The EDE method was found to be best method for 4-OHT loading, and the w/o/w method proved to be more effective for coloading NPs with anti-miR-21 and 4-OHT. The optimal NPs, which were prepared using the double emulsion method, were evaluated for their antiproliferative and apoptotic effects against MCF7, ZR-75-1, and BT-474 human breast cancer cells as well as against 4T1 mouse mammary carcinoma cells. We demonstrated that PLGA-b-PEG NP encapsulation significantly extended 4-OHT's stability and biological activity compared to that of free 4-OHT. MTT assays indicated that treatment of MCF7 cells with 4-OHT-anti-miR-21 co-loaded NPs resulted in dose-dependent antiproliferative effects at 24 h, which was significantly higher than what was achieved with free 4-OHT at 48 and 72 h post-treatment. Cell proliferation analysis showed that 4-OHT and anti-miR-21 co-loaded NPs significantly inhibited MCF-7 cell growth compared to that of free 4-OHT (1.9-fold) and untreated cells (5.4-fold) at 1 ?M concentration. The growth rate of MCF7 cells treated with control NPs or NPs loaded with anti-miR-21 showed no significant difference from that of untreated cells. These findings demonstrate the utility of the PLGA-b-PEG polymer NPs as an effective nanocarrier for co-delivery of anti-miR-21 and 4-OHT as well as the potential of this drug combination for use in the treatment of ER+ breast cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/mp500852s

    View details for Web of Science ID 000355637900038

  • Ultrasound-guided delivery of microRNA loaded nanoparticles into cancer JOURNAL OF CONTROLLED RELEASE Wang, T., Choe, J. W., Pu, K., Devulapally, R., Bachawal, S., Machtaler, S., Chowdhury, S. M., Luong, R., Tian, L., Khuri-Yakub, B., Rao, J., Paulmurugan, R., Willmann, J. K. 2015; 203: 99-108


    Ultrasound induced microbubble cavitation can cause enhanced permeability across natural barriers of tumors such as vessel walls or cellular membranes, allowing for enhanced therapeutic delivery into the target tissues. While enhanced delivery of small (<1nm) molecules has been shown at acoustic pressures below 1MPa both in vitro and in vivo, the delivery efficiency of larger (>100nm) therapeutic carriers into cancer remains unclear and may require a higher pressure for sufficient delivery. Enhanced delivery of larger therapeutic carriers such as FDA approved pegylated poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (PLGA-PEG-NP) has significant clinical value because these nanoparticles have been shown to protect encapsulated drugs from degradation in the blood circulation and allow for slow and prolonged release of encapsulated drugs at the target location. In this study, various acoustic parameters were investigated to facilitate the successful delivery of two nanocarriers, a fluorescent semiconducting polymer model drug nanoparticle as well as PLGA-PEG-NP into human colon cancer xenografts in mice. We first measured the cavitation dose produced by various acoustic parameters (pressure, pulse length, and pulse repetition frequency) and microbubble concentration in a tissue mimicking phantom. Next, in vivo studies were performed to evaluate the penetration depth of nanocarriers using various acoustic pressures, ranging between 1.7 and 6.9MPa. Finally, a therapeutic microRNA, miR-122, was loaded into PLGA-PEG-NP and the amount of delivered miR-122 was assessed using quantitative RT-PCR. Our results show that acoustic pressures had the strongest effect on cavitation. An increase of the pressure from 0.8 to 6.9MPa resulted in a nearly 50-fold increase in cavitation in phantom experiments. In vivo, as the pressures increased from 1.7 to 6.9MPa, the amount of nanoparticles deposited in cancer xenografts was increased from 4- to 14-fold, and the median penetration depth of extravasated nanoparticles was increased from 1.3-fold to 3-fold, compared to control conditions without ultrasound, as examined on 3D confocal microscopy. When delivering miR-122 loaded PLGA-PEG-NP using optimal acoustic settings with minimum tissue damage, miR-122 delivery into tumors with ultrasound and microbubbles was 7.9-fold higher compared to treatment without ultrasound. This study demonstrates that ultrasound induced microbubble cavitation can be a useful tool for delivery of therapeutic miR loaded nanocarriers into cancer in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jconrel.2015.02.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000351696600011

  • Polymer Nanoparticles Mediated Codelivery of AntimiR-10b and AntimiR-21 for Achieving Triple Negative Breast Cancer Therapy ACS NANO Devulapally, R., Sekar, N. M., Sekar, T. V., Foygel, K., Massoud, T. F., Willmann, J. K., Paulmurugan, R. 2015; 9 (3): 2290-2302


    The current study shows the therapeutic outcome achieved in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) by simultaneously antagonizing miR-21-induced antiapoptosis and miR-10b-induced metastasis, using antisense-miR-21-PS and antisense-miR-10b-PS delivered by polymer nanoparticles (NPs). We synthesized the antisense-miR-21 and antisense-miR-10b loaded PLGA-b-PEG polymer NPs and evaluated their cellular uptake, serum stability, release profile, and the subsequent synchronous blocking of endogenous miR-21 and miR-10b function in TNBC cells in culture, and tumor xenografts in living animals using molecular imaging. Results show that multitarget antagonization of endogenous miRNAs could be an efficient strategy for targeting metastasis and antiapoptosis in the treatment of metastatic cancer. Targeted delivery of antisense-miR-21 and antisense-miR-10b coloaded urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) targeted polymer NPs treated mice showed substantial reduction in tumor growth at very low dose of 0.15 mg/kg, compared to the control NPs treated mice and 40% reduction in tumor growth compared to scramble peptide conjugated NPs treated mice, thus demonstrating a potential new therapeutic option for TNBC.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nn507465d

    View details for Web of Science ID 000351791800007

  • Polymer nanoparticles for drug and small silencing RNA delivery to treat cancers of different phenotypes WILEY INTERDISCIPLINARY REVIEWS-NANOMEDICINE AND NANOBIOTECHNOLOGY Devulapally, R., Paulmurugan, R. 2014; 6 (1): 40-60

    View details for DOI 10.1002/wnan.1242

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328354300003

  • Ultrasound-guided therapeutic modulation of hepatocellular carcinoma using complementary microRNAs. Journal of controlled release Mullick Chowdhury, S., Wang, T., Bachawal, S., Devulapally, R., Choe, J. W., Abou Elkacem, L., Yakub, B. K., Wang, D. S., Tian, L., Paulmurugan, R., Willmann, J. K. 2016; 238: 272-280


    Treatment options for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are limited, in particular in advanced and drug resistant HCC. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are non-coding small RNAs that are emerging as novel drugs for the treatment of cancer. The aim of this study was to assess treatment effects of two complementary miRNAs (sense miRNA-122, and antisense antimiR-21) encapsulated in biodegradable poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (PLGA-NP), administered by an ultrasound-guided and microbubble-enhanced delivery approach in doxorubicin-resistant and non-resistant human HCC xenografts. Proliferation and invasiveness of human HCC cells after miRNA-122/antimiR-21 and doxorubicin treatment were assessed in vitro. Confocal microscopy and qRT-PCR were used to visualize and quantitate successful intracellular miRNA-loaded PLGA-NP delivery. Up and down-regulation of miRNA downstream targets and multidrug resistance proteins and extent of apoptosis were assessed in vivo in treated human HCC xenografts in mice. Compared to single miRNA therapy, combination therapy with the two complementary miRNAs resulted in significantly (P<0.05) stronger decrease in cell proliferation, invasion, and migration of HCC cells as well as higher resensitization to doxorubicin. Ultrasound-guided delivery significantly increased in vivo miRNA-loaded PLGA-NP delivery in human HCC xenografts compared to control conditions by 5-9 fold (P<0.001). miRNA-loaded PLGA-NP were internalized in HCC cells and anti-apoptotic proteins were down regulated with apoptosis in ~27% of the tumor volume of doxorubicin-resistant human HCC after a single treatment with complementary miRNAs and doxorubicin. Thus, ultrasound-guided delivery of complementary miRNAs is highly efficient in the treatment of doxorubicin- resistant and non-resistant HCC. Further development of this new treatment approach could aid in better treatment of patients with HCC.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jconrel.2016.08.005

    View details for PubMedID 27503707

  • Orlistat and antisense-miRNA-loaded PLGA-PEG nanoparticles for enhanced triple negative breast cancer therapy. Nanomedicine Bhargava-Shah, A., Foygel, K., Devulapally, R., Paulmurugan, R. 2016; 11 (3): 235-247


    This study explores the use of hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol)-conjugated poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (PLGA-PEG-NPs) as delivery system to improve the antitumor effect of antiobesity drug orlistat for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) therapy by improving its bioavailability.PLGA-PEG-NPs were synthesized by emulsion-diffusion-evaporation method, and the experiments were conducted in vitro in MDA-MB-231 and SKBr3 TNBC and normal breast fibroblast cells.Delivery of orlistat via PLGA-PEG-NPs reduced its IC50 compared with free orlistat. Combined treatment of orlistat-loaded NPs and doxorubicin or antisense-miR-21-loaded NPs significantly enhanced apoptotic effect compared with independent doxorubicin, anti-miR-21-loaded NPs, orlistat-loaded NPs or free orlistat treatments.We demonstrate that orlistat in combination with antisense-miR-21 or current chemotherapy holds great promise as a novel and versatile treatment agent for TNBC.

    View details for DOI 10.2217/nnm.15.193

    View details for PubMedID 26787319

  • Folate Receptor-Targeted Polymeric Micellar Nanocarriers for Delivery of Orlistat as a Repurposed Drug against Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Molecular cancer therapeutics Paulmurugan, R., Bhethanabotla, R., Mishra, K., Devulapally, R., Foygel, K., Sekar, T. V., Ananta, J. S., Massoud, T. F., Joy, A. 2016; 15 (2): 221-231


    Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a recalcitrant malignancy with no available targeted therapy. Off target effects and poor bioavailability of the FDA approved anti-obesity drug orlistat hinder its clinical translation as a repurposed new drug against TNBC. Here we demonstrate a newly engineered drug formulation for packaging orlistat tailored to TNBC treatment. We synthesized TNBC-specific folate receptor targeted micellar nanoparticles (NPs) carrying orlistat, which improved the solubility (70-80 ?g/ml) of this water insoluble drug. The targeted NPs also improved the delivery and bioavailability of orlistat to MDA-MB-231 cells in culture and to tumor xenografts in nude mouse model. We prepared HEA-EHA copolymer micellar NPs by copolymerization of 2-hydroxyethylacrylate (HEA) and 2-ethylhexylacrylate (EHA), and functionalized them with folic acid and an imaging dye. Fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis of TNBC cells indicated a dose dependent increase in apoptotic populations in cells treated with free orlistat, orlistat NPs, and folate-receptor targeted Fol-HEA-EHA-orlistat NPs in which Fol-HEA-EHA-orlistat NPs showed significantly higher cytotoxicity than free orlistat. In vitro analysis data demonstrated significant apoptosis at nanomolar concentrations in cells activated through caspase 3 and PARP inhibition. In vivo analysis demonstrated significant antitumor effects in living mice after targeted treatment of tumors, and confirmed by fluorescence imaging. Moreover, Folate receptor targeted Fol-DyLight747-orlistat NPs treated mice exhibited significantly higher reduction in tumor volume compared to control group. Taken together, these results indicate that orlistat packaged in HEA-b-EHA micellar NPs is a highly promising new drug formulation for TNBC therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0579

    View details for PubMedID 26553061

  • Degron Protease Blockade Sensor to Image Epigenetic Histone Protein Methylation in Cells and Living Animals ACS CHEMICAL BIOLOGY Sekar, T. V., Foygel, K., Devulapally, R., Paulmurugan, R. 2015; 10 (1): 165-174


    Lysine methylation of histone H3 and H4 has been identified as a promising therapeutic target in treating various cellular diseases. The availability of an in vivo assay that enables rapid screening and preclinical evaluation of drugs that potentially target this cellular process will significantly expedite the pace of drug development. This study is the first to report the development of a real-time molecular imaging biosensor (a fusion protein, [FLuc2]-[Suv39h1]-[(G4S)3]-[H3-K9]-[cODC]) that can detect and monitor the methylation status of a specific histone lysine methylation mark (H3-K9) in live animals. The sensitivity of this sensor was assessed in various cell lines, in response to down-regulation of methyltransferase EHMT2 by specific siRNA, and in nude mice with lysine replacement mutants. In vivo imaging in response to a combination of methyltransferase inhibitors BIX01294 and Chaetocin in mice reveals the potential of this sensor for preclinical drug evaluation. This biosensor thus has demonstrated its utility in the detection of H3-K9 methylations in vivo and potential value in preclinical drug development.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/cb5008037

    View details for Web of Science ID 000348332100017

  • Suzuki-Miyaura Cross-Coupling of Potassium Trifluoro(N-methylheteroaryl)borates with Aryl and Heteroaryl Halides. The Journal of organic chemistry Molander, G. A., Ryu, D., Hosseini-Sarvari, M., Devulapally, R., Seapy, D. G. 2013; 78 (13): 6648-56


    The synthesis of potassium trifluoro(N-methylheteroaryl)borates and their use in cross-coupling reactions with various aryl and heteroaryl halides to construct N-methyl heteroaryl-substituted aromatic and heteroaromatic compounds are reported.

    View details for PubMedID 23826939

  • Synthesis and cross-coupling reactions of imidomethyltrifluoroborates with aryl chlorides. Tetrahedron letters Devulapally, R., Fleury-Brégeot, N., Molander, G. A., Seapy, D. G. 2012; 53 (9): 1051-1055


    Potassium imidomethyltrifluoroborate salts were efficiently synthesized. Potassium phthalimidomethyl-trifluoroborate was successfully used in Suzuki-Miyaura-like cross-coupling reactions with a variety of aryl chlorides.

    View details for PubMedID 22350554

  • The first total synthesis of (+/-)-zenkequinone B TETRAHEDRON LETTERS Devulapally, R., Hon, Y. 2011; 52 (25): 3183-3185
  • Efficient syntheses of 3H-azuleno[8,1-cd]pyridazines and their thermal and photochemical reactions TETRAHEDRON LETTERS Wu, C., Devulapally, R., Li, T., Ku, C., Chung, H. 2010; 51 (37): 4819-4822
  • A concise method for the synthesis of 2-tetralone by titanium tetrachloride-promoted cyclization of 4-aryl-2-hydroxybutanal diethyl acetal TETRAHEDRON LETTERS Hon, Y., Devulapally, R. 2009; 50 (41): 5713-5715
  • TiCl4-promoted intramolecular cyclization of 4-methoxy-5-aryiethyl-1,3-dioxolan-2-ones: an expedient method to prepare 2-tetralones TETRAHEDRON LETTERS Hon, Y., Devulapally, R. 2009; 50 (23): 2831-2834

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