MSc, BSc
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Damu S. completed his Masters in Biotechnology from Amrita School of Biotechnology in 2011. He worked as Guest Lecturer in the Department of Biotechnology at Government College Kariavattom, Thiruvananthapuram, India during 2011-2012.

He joined back Amrita School of Biotechnology in 2012 and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in Biotechnology at Cell Biology Lab with a fellowship from the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), India.

His current area of interest is in Cancer and Inflammatory Diseases. More Details

Alma Mater

  • MSc. Biotechnology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (2011)
  • BSc. Biotechnology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (2009)

Earlier Affiliation

  • Guest Lecturer in Department of Biotechnology, Government College Kariavattom (2011-2012), Kerala University, India.


  • Award of Appreciation from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, 2014
  • Awarded Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)- Senior Research Fellowship, India, 2014
  • Award of Excellence from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, 2012
  • Awarded Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-Junior Research Fellowship, India, 2012
  • Awarded CSIR-UGC-NET for Lectureship, India, 2011
  • Qualified  Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), India, 2011

Research Experience

  1. The Project entitled “Modulatory Effect of Curcumin in Hypobaric Hypoxia-Induced  Pulmonary Edema-  A  Molecular  Approach  ”  has been carried out at  Defence Insitute of Physiology and Allied Science(DIPAS),  Lucknow  Road,  Timarpur, Delhi, under the guidance of Dr. S. Sarada Suryakumari.
  2. The project entitled “Antimicrobial Activity of Different Allopathic, Homeopathic and Ayurvedic Medicines against Klebsiella Pneumoniae” was carried under the guidance of Ms. Athira O., Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri, Kollam.

BRITE Projects

  1. Herbal thirst busters of Kerala- A factual analysis (2019)
  2. A study on phytochemicals from Cerbera odollam and screening of potential inhibitors on sodium-potassium ion channel (2020)


  • BIO584: Immunology - Labs | M.Sc. Biotechnology/ Semester 3
  • MIC103: Introductory Biology | B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/ Semester 1
  • BIO204: Cell Biology | B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/ Semester 3
  • BIO319: Pharmacology | B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/ Semester 6
  • BIO282: Immunology - Lab | B.Sc.Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/ Semester 4
  • BIO281: Cell & Molecular Biology – Lab | B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/ Semester 3
  • BIO399: BRITE (B.Sc. Research Initiative Towards Excellence) Projects (B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/ Semester 6)


Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication Title


Drishya G., Dr. Jyotsna Nambiar, Sanu K. Shaji, Muralidharan Vanuopadath, A., A., Abishek, K., Ashna, A., Ayesha Sherif, Catherine Joseph, Divya P., Damu Sunilkumar, Chinchu Bose, Dr. Sobha V. Nair, S. Sudarslal, Dr. Geetha Kumar, S., L., and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “RECK and TIMP-2 mediate inhibition of MMP-2 and MMP-9 by Annona muricata”, Journal of Biosciences, vol. 45, no. 1, p. 89, 2020.[Abstract]

Up-regulation of MMP-2 and MMP-9 plays a significant role in promoting cancer progression by degrading the components of the extracellular matrix, thereby enhancing the migration of tumor cells. Although the anti-proliferative and apoptotic effect of Annona muricata is well established, its effect on MMP-2 and MMP-9, a major target in several types of cancers, has not been studied. Powdered samples of various parts of A. muricata like fruit, stem, seed, and twig extracted using aqueous methanol showed significant dose-dependent inhibition of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in a highly metastatic fibrosarcoma cell line, HT1080. Additionally, these extracts also up-regulated the expression of several endogenous inhibitors of MMP-2 and MMP-9 like REversion-inducing Cysteine-rich protein with Kazal motifs (RECK) and Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2). Furthermore, primary cells developed from tumor tissues obtained from patients not exposed to chemotherapy, also exhibited similar results. Remarkably, the inhibition of MMP-2 and MMP-9 observed was tumor specific, with the A. muricata fruit extract showing only 2% inhibition in cells obtained from normal tissues, when compared to 60% inhibition observed in cells obtained from tumor samples. The present study elucidates a novel mechanism by which A. muricata extracts selectively exhibit their anti-cancer activity in tumor cells by down-regulating MMP-2 and MMP-9 that are important biomarkers in cancer.

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S. K. Shaji, Damu Sunilkumar, V., M. N., Geetha B. Kumar, and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “Analysis of microarray data for identification of key microRNA signatures in glioblastoma multiforme”, Oncol Lett, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 1938-1948, 2019.[Abstract]

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most malignant types of glioma known for its reduced survival rate and rapid relapse. Previous studies have shown that the expression patterns of different microRNAs (miRNA/miR) play a crucial role in the development and progression of GBM. In order to identify potential miRNA signatures of GBM for prognostic and therapeutic purposes, we downloaded and analyzed two expression data sets from Gene Expression Omnibus profiling miRNA patterns of GBM compared with normal brain tissues. Validated targets of the deregulated miRNAs were identified using MirTarBase, and were mapped to Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins, Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes databases in order to construct interaction networks and identify enriched pathways of target genes. A total of 6 miRNAs were found to be deregulated in both expression datasets studied. Pathway analysis demonstrated that most of the target genes were enriched in signaling cascades connected to cancer development, such as 'Pathways in cancer', 'Focal adhesion' and 'PI3K-Akt signaling pathway'. Of the five target genes that were enriched in the glioblastoma pathway, in the WikiPathway database, both HRas proto-oncogene, GTPase and MET proto-oncogene, receptor tyrosine kinase target genes of hsa-miR-139-5p, were found to be significantly associated with patient survival. The present study may thus form the basis for further exploration of hsa-miR-139-5p, not only as a therapeutic agent, but also as a diagnostic biomarker for GBM as well as a predictive marker for patient survival.

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Damu Sunilkumar, Drishya G., Chandrasekharan, A., Shaji, S. K., Chinchu Bose, Jossart, J., J. Jefferson P. Perry, Dr. Nandita Mishra, Dr. Geetha Kumar, and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “Oxyresveratrol drives caspase-independent apoptosis-like cell death in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells through the induction of ROS.”, Biochem Pharmacol, p. 113724, 2019.[Abstract]

Earlier studies from our laboratory have demonstrated that Oxyresveratrol (OXY), a hydroxyl-substituted stilbene, exhibits potent inhibition of human melanoma cell proliferation. The present study defines a cytotoxic effect of OXY on the highly chemo-resistant, triple-negative human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. OXY-mediated cell death resulted in accumulation of cells at the sub-G1 phase of the cell cycle, induced chromatin condensation, DNA fragmentation, phosphatidylserine externalization and PARP cleavage, indicative of apoptosis. Interestingly, morphology and cell viability studies with the pan-caspase inhibitor, QVD-OPH revealed that OXY-induced cell death was caspase-independent.Docking studies also showed that OXY can bind to the S1 site of caspase-3, and could also exert an inhibitory effect on this executioner caspase. The immunoblot analysis demonstrating the absence of caspase cleavage during cell death further confirmed these findings. OXY was also observed to induce the production of reactive oxygen species, which caused the depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane resulting in translocation of Apoptosis Inducing Factor (AIF) into the nucleus. Pretreatment of the cells with N-Acetyl Cysteine antioxidant prevented cell death resulting from OXY treatment. Thus, OXY initiates ROS-mediated, apoptosis-like cell death, involving mitochondrial membrane depolarization, translocation of AIF into the nucleus, and DNA fragmentation, resulting in caspase-independent cell death in MDA-MB-231 cells. The cytotoxicity manifested by OXY was also observed in 3D cell culture models and primary cells, thereby providing a basis for the utilization of OXY as a novel template for the future design of anticancer therapeutics.

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Damu Sunilkumar, Chinchu Bose, Sanu K Shaji, Nanjan Pandurangan, Geetha B Kumar, Asoke Banerji, and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “Coconut Shell Derived Bioactive Compound Oxyresveratrol Mediates Regulation Of Matrix Metalloproteinase 9”, International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 202 – 210, 2017.


K. Amrutha, Pandurangan Nanjan, Sanu K Shaji, Damu Sunilkumar, Subhalakshmi, K., Rajakrishna, L., and Asoke Banerji, “Discovery of lesser known flavones as inhibitors of NF-κB signaling in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells—A SAR study”, Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters, vol. 24, no. 19, pp. 4735–4742, 2014.[Abstract]

Seventeen flavonoids with different substitutions were evaluated for inhibition of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling in the invasive breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. They were screened using an engineered MDA-MB-231 cell line reporting NF-κB activation. The modulation of expression of two NF-κB regulated genes involved in tumorigenesis, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) were also analyzed in these cells. Among the compounds tested, all except gossypetin and quercetagetin inhibited the activation of NF-κB, and the expression of MMP-9 and COX-2 to different degree. Methylated flavone, chrysoeriol (luteolin-3′-methylether), was found to be the most potent inhibitor of MMP-9 and COX-2 expressions. The effect of chrysoeriol on cell proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis and metastasis was analyzed by established methods. Chrysoeriol caused cell cycle arrest at G2/M and inhibited migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells. The structure–activity relations amongst the flavonoids as NF-κB signaling inhibitors was studied. The study indicates differences between the actions of various flavonoids on NF-κB activation and on the biological activities of breast cancer cells. Flavones in general, were more active than the corresponding flavonols.

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Publication Type: Conference Proceedings

Year of Publication Title


Sanu K Shaji, Damu Sunilkumar, Dr. Geetha Kumar, and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “Systematic understanding of anti-tumor mechanisms of tamarixetin through network and experimental analyses”, 39th Annual Conference of Indian Association for Cancer Research (IACR-2020): “Leading the Fight against Cancer”, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), Trivandrum, Kerala, India, February 5-7. 2020.


Anupama Binoy, Divya Nedungadi, Damu Sunilkumar, Dr. Bipin G. Nair, and Dr. Nandita Mishra, “Role of AIF in Plumbagin induced Paraptosis-A caspase independent cell death in MDA-MB-231 cancer cells”, 39th Annual Conference of Indian Association for Cancer Research (IACR-2020): “Leading the Fight against Cancer”, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), Trivandrum, Kerala, India, February 5-7. 2020.


Sanu K Shaji, Damu Sunilkumar, Drishya G., Dr. Geetha Kumar, and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “MicroRNA-491 functions to down regulate both matrix metalloproteinase-9 and epidermal growth factor receptor expression and inhibit cell migration in MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast cancer cells (Poster)”, 27th Swadeshi Science Congress. Amritapuri, 2017.


Damu Sunilkumar, Chinchu Bose, Sanu K Shaji, Dr. Asoke Banerji, Geetha B. Kumar, and Dr. Bipin G. Nair, “Cocos Nucifera Shell Extract Down Regulates MMP-2, MMP-9 and Cell Migration in A375 Cells (Poster)”, The XXXIX All India Cell Biology Conference . 2015.[Abstract]

Melanoma is the least common but most fatal form of skin cancer. An essential step in melanoma cell migration, invasion, and metastasis is the degradation of basement membranes and extracellular matrix. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors play a crucial role in these complex multistep processes. We investigated the effect of extract from coconut (Cocos nucifera) shell on human melanoma cell line A375. The coconut shell extract was fractionated and the bioactivity screening was carried out. The ethyl methyl ketone (EMK) extract, which was identified as being most potent was further purified to yield two main subfractions (F1 and F2). Comparative studies with gelatin zymography demonstrated that the ‘F1’ significantly down regulated the gelatinolytic activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9. Similarly ,the gene expression studies with ‘F1’ showed down regulation of MMP-2, MMP-9, VEGF and COX-2 all of which play key roles in metastasis, angiogenesis and tumor promoting inflammation. Further, studies confirmed that ‘F1’ inhibited migration and caused arrest at G2/M phase of the cell cycle. Susequently, the structural characterization by LC-MS/MS and NMR studies determined the active fraction, ‘F1’to be oxyresveratrol, a stilbenoid. Thus, we report for the first time the isolation and characterization of the compound, oxyresveratrol from coconut shell and also show its regulation of MMPs in human melanoma which suggests its therapeutic potential in cancer.

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Conferences/Workshops Attended

  • 2014: Hands-On Training in Flow Cytometry workshop held at C-CAMP at NCBS campus, Bangalore,India.
  • 2014: 33rd Annual Convention of Indian Association for Cancer Research, organized by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • 2013: International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications at Amritapuri, Kollam, Kerala, India
  • 2010: International Conference on Cancer Biology: Molecular Mechanisms and Novel Therapeutics (2010), IIT Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
  • 2010: Indian Association for Cancer Research 29th Annual Convention (2010), AIMS, Cochin, Kerala, India.
Faculty Research Interest: