WHY IS TOO LITTLE OR TOO MUCH OF A VITAMIN TOXIC?
Most vitamins are enzymatic cofactors. However, the exact enzymes that depend on a given vitamin are not comprehensively identified. Moreover, the functions of many vitamins are broadly defined as "antioxidants". However, it is likely that specific metabolic functions depend on each vitamin. Moreover, there are numerous genetic or dietary causes of tissue-level vitamin deficiencies. We set out to understand exactly why variations in vitamin levels are toxic and their precise functions in human health.
HOW DOES THE BODY SENSE AND ADAPT TO VARYING VITAMIN LEVELS?
Vitamins are essential for life, but are not made by the human body. It is unknown how most vitamins are sensed and how organisms adapt to variations in these vital nutrients. The discovery of the Vitamin A and D receptors triggered entirely new subfields of biology. We seek to identify novel vitamin sensors and the downstream signaling cascades.
WHICH DISEASES CAN BE TREATED BY TURNING THE VITAMIN DIAL?
There is abundant anecdotal evidence that vitamin supplementation is protective across a range of metabolic disorders. Vitamin deficiencies can have devastating effects on health (e.g. beriberi, pellagra). Such conditions can result from states of malnutrition (e.g. alcoholism or starvation) or can be secondary to genetic defects in transport/activation systems. It is logical that vitamin supplementation should help in such states of direct deficiencies. However, the exact metabolic pathways that are affected by each vitamin deficiency and the broader category of diseases that are likely to benefit, remains unknown. We aim to develop megavitamin therapy for specific inborn errors of metabolism and more common metabolic conditions.