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Penn School of Medicine receives $2.3 million to study biomarkers of cigarette smoke exposure
Date:9/14/2007

PHILADELPHIA -- The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has been awarded $2.3 million over the next four years to study biological indicators of exposure to cigarette smoke. The grant is part of the National Institutes of Health new Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI). The GEI represents a unique collaboration between geneticists and environmental health scientists. In this first round of awards genetic studies were funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and biomarker studies were funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Exposure to tobacco smoke both mainstream and second-hand is a leading cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoke contains about 3,800 chemical constituents, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can cause lung, skin, and bladder cancer. Whats more, tobacco smoke is associated with cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pancreatic disease, and is likely responsible for more deaths than any other environmental exposure.

Only one in ten smokers get lung cancer, but the five-year survival rate after diagnosis is only 15 percent, says Trevor M. Penning, PhD, CEETs director. The question is, how can we intervene earlier to identify people most at risk. We aim to look at the interaction of genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and biomarkers of exposure to cigarette smoke. At the end of the day, if we study genetics and exposure together, well hopefully have a very strong statement to say who is most at risk.

This could be like measuring cholesterol for preventing heart disease, says principal investigator Ian Blair, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Pharmacology. If, for example, a certain chemical change is seen in a smokers DNA, it might inspire them to give up smoking. You could show them a biomarker panel and
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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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