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MICaB Faculty

Khalil Ahmed
Khalil Ahmed Ph.D.


Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

McGill University, 1960, Ph.D.

office - 612-467-2594
lab - 612-467-2876

Research Interests:

Signaling in Abnormal and Normal Cell Growth

The major focus of our research is to determine the molecular mechanisms that control cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis. Our investigations are aimed at understanding the signaling in prostate cancer (PCa) and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Protein kinase CK2 (formerly casein kinase II or 2) is the biochemical paradigm for our studies. This protein kinase signal plays a critical role in cell growth and proliferation, and our recent work has also established it as a major modulator of the apoptotic activity in the cell. The importance of CK2 in cancer relates to the consistently observed dysregulation of this kinase in all the cancers that have been examined. The ability of CK2 to promote cell growth as well as suppress apoptosis links the kinase to cancer biology as cancer cells are characterized by dysregulation not only of proliferation but also of apoptosis. An important aspect CK2 is that this signal has the potential of serving as a target for inducing apoptosis in cancer cells. Current studies in our laboratory are focused on this aspect as well as on defining the mechanism of CK2 mediated suppression of apoptosis. Many of the CK2 functions related to cell growth and cell death are mediated via its signaling to the nuclear structures (such as chromatin and nuclear matrix). As such, we are interested in delineating the mechanism of these signaling events. Investigations in our laboratory have made the initial proof of principle observations on the potential targeting of CK2 for cancer therapy by antisense CK2 mediated molecular downregulation of CK2. A novel nanoparticle approach is also being developed for delivering the antisense specifically to the tumor cells in vivo. The experimental studies in the laboratory employ diverse range of biochemical, cell biological, and molecular biological techniques.

Dr. Ahmed received his B.Sc. Honours (1954) and his M.Sc. Honours (1955) from Panjab University, Lahore, Pakistan, and his Ph.D. degree in 1960 from McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He did postdoctoral work with Dr. J.D. Judah at the Wistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania.

Selected Recent Publications:

  • Ahmed, Khalil, ‘High Hopes for Health’, International Innovation, November 2013, (Research Media, UK, pp 15-17) ISSN 2051-8528.
  • Trembley JH, Wu J, Unger GM, Kren BT, Ahmed K: CK2 suppression of apoptosis and its implications in cancer biology and therapy. In Pinna LA (Ed.) The Wiley-IUBMB Series on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Protein Kinase CK2. ISBN: 978-0-470-96303-6, January 2013, Wiley-Blackwell. Pp 319-333.
  • Kramerov AA, Ahmed K, Ljubimov A. 2012. Cell rounding in cultured human astrocytes and vascular endothelial cells upon inhibition of CK2 is mediated by actomyosin cytoskeleton alteration. J Cell Biochem. J Cell Biochem. 13(9):2948-56.
  • Unger G, Trembley J, Kren B, Ahmed K: Nanoparticles in Cancer Therapy. In: Schwab M. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Cancer: SpringerReference ( Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2012. DOI: 10.1007/SpringerReference_175620 2012-03-05 10:28:01 UTC
  • Ahmed K: Nanocapsules. In: Schwab M. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Cancer: SpringerReference ( Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2012. URL: 2012-02-27 10:34:43 UTC
  • Trembley JH, Unger GM, Korman VL, Tobolt DK, Kazimierczuk Z, Pinna LA, Kren BT, Ahmed K. 2012. Nanoencapsulated anti-CK2 small molecule drug or siRNA specifically targets malignant cancer but not benign cells. Cancer Letters 315: 48–58,
  • Ahmed K, Issinger O-G, Niefind K. 2011. Protein kinase CK2: A catalyst for biology, medicine and structural biochemistry. Mol Cell Biochem 356: 1-3.
  • Trembley JH, Unger G, Tobolt DK, Korman VL, Wang G, Ahmad KA, Slaton J, Kren BT, Ahmed K. 2011. Systemic administration of antisense oligonucleotides simultaneously targeting CK2a and a′ reduces primary prostate xenograft tumors in mice. Molec Cell Biochem 356: 21-35.
  • Kramerov A, Golub AG, Bdzhola VG, Yarmoluk SM, Ahmed K, Bretner M, Ljubimov AV: 2011. Treatment of cultured human astrocytes and vascular endothelial cells with protein kinase CK2 inhibitors induces early changes in cell shape and cytoskeleton. Mol Cell Biochem. 349: 125–137.
  • Slaton JW, Ahmed K, Unger GM, Davis A, Sloper D: Casein Kinase 2 Antisense Therapy, in 2010, Regents of the University of MN: U.S.A. United States Patent 7,741,304.
  • Trembley JH, Chen Z, Unger G, Slaton J, Kren BT, Van Waes C, Ahmed K: 2010. Emergence of Protein Kinase CK2 as a Key Target in Cancer Therapy. BioFactors 36(3): 187-195.
  • Wang G, Pan Y, Ahmad KA, Ahmed K: 2010. Protein B23/Nucleophosmin/Numatrin dynamics in relation to modulation of Protein Kinase CK2 and Apoptotic Activity in Prostate Cells. Biochemistry 49 (18): 3842–3852.
  • Brown MS, Diallo OT, Hu M, Ehsanian R, Yang X, Arun P, Lu H, Korman V, Unger G, Ahmed K, Van Waes C, Chen Z: 2010. CK2 modulation of NF-kB, TP53 and the malignant phenotype in head and neck cancer by anti-CK2 oligonucleotides in vitro or in vivo via sub-50 nm nanocapsules. Clin Canc Res 16: 2295-2307.