By blocking glutaminase, a derivative of glutamine (an amino acid used in the biosynthesis of proteins), the energy producing machinery of cells becomes impaired, making it harder for cells that are damaged by radiation to repair themselves and continue to survive.
Takiar adds that researchers will validate the efficacy of glutaminase inhibition by testing it alone and in combination with radiation therapy. She and her team will also work to identify other new head and neck cancer cellular pathways that are altered by radiation therapy using samples taken from patients, treating them with radiation and then looking at their molecular changes.
“This research will lay the groundwork for future clinical trials and is expected to identify additional unknown, yet effective treatment combinations,” she says. “The treatment of head and neck cancers in the VA population deserves special consideration because of the patient population’s risk factors, overall outcomes and cost of their care. We hope this study will lead to more effective treatment for veterans with head and neck cancers and eventually help others with the disease.”
Featured Photo: Vinita Takiar, MD, PhD. Photo Credit: Colleen Kelley / Communication Services