Hedgehog pathway cancer therapy and taste and smell defects, Team B
Taste and smell are essential sensory systems that affect food choices, nutritional status and health. Taste bud cells and olfactory receptors turn over and are susceptible to environmental and metabolic influences. We will determine how alterations in Hedgehog signaling affect taste and smell. Cancer patients receiving Hedgehog pathway inhibitors develop severe taste disturbances leading to drug discontinuation. We hypothesize that Hedgehog signaling acts in a cilia-dependent manner to control olfactory epithelia and taste bud function, and that pharmacological inhibition of this pathway causes taste disturbance in cancer patients. We will define Hedgehog function in taste and smell and how Hedgehog pathway cancer therapies influence these senses. We will also evaluate taste and smell function in patients treated with Hedgehog pathway inhibitors. Experts in taste, smell, Hedgehog signaling, cilia biology, and epithelial biology are required to address this novel area of research that has direct bearing on patient care.