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Investigating the carcinogenicity of e-cig

Institution: University of Southern California
Investigator(s): Stella Tommasi, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2016 (Cycle 25) Grant #: 25IP-0001 Award: $396,000
Subject Area: Environmental Exposure/Toxicology
Award Type: High Impact Pilot Award

Initial Award Abstract

This project will address the overall health impact of electronic cigarette (e-cig) use, which is a major public health concern. E-cigs are increasingly promoted as safe alternatives to conventional tobacco cigarettes or as aids to smoking cessation. E-cigs are rapidly gaining acceptance in the United States and many parts of the world, especially among children and young adults. However, very little is known about the health consequences of e-cig use. The studies described in this “Pilot Research Award” application will investigate, for the first time, the cancer-causing potential of e-cig in a validated mouse model. We will use state-of-the-art DNA sequencing-based techniques, developed in our laboratory (Nucleic Acids Res, 2012) and others’, to investigate the cancer-relevant biological effects of e-cig aerosol, and compare the results to those of cigarette smoke. Using a microprocessor-controlled vaping machine, we will expose mice to e-cig aerosol, harvest their lungs, and measure molecular changes that are known to be associated with cancer. The culmination of the studies described in this proposal is expected to result in data that can help clarify the health risks/benefits of e-cig use relative to cigarette smoking. This information will assist regulatory agencies in making scientifically based decisions on the development and evaluation of regulations on e-cigs and other tobacco products to protect public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors.