Rajesh Thakker is providing molecular insights into disorders of the endocrine system that result in poor regulation of calcium in the human body. By translating his basic research in genetics and cell signalling into a clinical setting, Rajesh has effected major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine tumours, kidney stones and several bone diseases.
Whilst the vast majority of calcium is stored in bones, the rest is found in extracellular fluid, which includes the blood. Rajesh showed that abnormalities in a G-protein-coupled receptor known as calcium-sensing receptor were associated with changes in extracellular-calcium levels. He also revealed that the G-protein alpha-11 and adaptor protein-2-sigma subunits are important signalling molecules in the pathway that rebalances blood calcium levels.
Hormone-secreting parathyroid glands in the neck play a vital role in controlling the body’s calcium levels. Rajesh has successfully classified disorders of these glands — as well as the related multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 syndrome — at the molecular level, providing an improved understanding of how they arise, can be screened for and are subsequently treated.