Dr. Vlashi earned her PhD from the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University with a focus on the characterization of in vivo trafficking and dynamic accumulation of anti-cancer drugs targeted via high-affinity ligands to solid tumors. During her post-doctoral training she expanded her expertise on cancer stem cells and radiation oncology and made important discoveries that led to the development of tools for identification, tracking and targeting of cancer stem cells. Employing the unique tools for cancer stem cell identification and isolation she made the discovery that cancer stem cells reside in a metabolic state distinct from the rest of the bulk tumor cell population.
Currently, the Vlashi Lab is building on the prior seminal discoveries on cancer stem cell metabolism and is interested in investigating metabolic changes induced by radiation therapy, how these changes dictate response to therapy, and how such changes can be exploited with the goal of further enhancing benefit from radiation therapy for cancer patients. Our ultimate goal is to develop novel agents against glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer.
We have recently uncovered that cancer cells, including breast cancer, glioblastoma, and pancreatic cancer cells, upregulate their glucose consumption following radiation therapy. We are therefore investigating the consequences of this surplus in glucose and whether it is protecting the cells from radiation toxicity, in different models. Stay tuned!
In collaboration with other labs in the department Dr. Vlashi’s lab is also interested in investigating radiation mitigators for the purpose of limiting radiation toxicity to normal tissue during radiation therapy, with the ultimate goal of maximizing the therapeutic index of this powerful anti-cancer treatment modality.