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UTHealth awarded FEMA grant to explore novel obesity risk factor among firefighters
Date:6/16/2011

. This will be the first time mechanisms to explain the increased body fat, obesity hormones and lipids will be explored among humans in this study of firefighters, according to Day.

There are 56 different types of known adenoviruses, but Ad-36 is the only virus that is associated with weight gain and obesity in humans, according to Cynthia Chappell, Ph.D., co-investigator and professor of environmental health at the School of Public Health. "Other adenoviruses cause colds, diarrhea, or eye infections but none of these symptoms have been seen in animals infected with Ad-36. Until now, we haven't had a way of studying early Ad-36 infection in people because of a lack of symptoms," said Chappell, who is also a microbiologist with the UTHealth Center for Infectious Diseases.

Researchers are hoping to learn more about the virus by pinpointing the gene E4orf1, which is found in the virus and believed to cause the weight gain effect. "We are just beginning to understand how this virus works mainly by using laboratory studies with fat cells infected with Ad-36," said Chappell.

Obesity is a risk factor for CVD, and is one of the priority issues in the National Fire Service Research Agenda developed by the National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation. According to a 2011 study in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the prevalence of excessive weight in the fire service ranges from 77 percent to 87 percent, much higher than the national average. In 2009, the National Fire Protection Association reported 42 percent of on-duty fatalities that year were due to sudden cardiac death. According to Day, the most common overall cause of firefighter fatality is sudden cardiac death. She says the results of this research will greatly benefit the fire service.

"We have a top-notch team of scientists and an incredible opportunity to learn a great deal about this virus and how it works in people," said Day. "We are grateful for the chanc
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Contact: Jade Waddy
jade.waddy@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3307
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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