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Does secondhand smoke induce epigenetic changes?

Institution: University of Southern California
Investigator(s): Stella Tommasi, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2017 (Cycle 26) Grant #: 26IP-0051 Award: $392,100
Subject Area: Environmental Exposure/Toxicology
Award Type: High Impact Pilot Award

Initial Award Abstract

Secondhand smoke (SHS) has long been linked to lung cancer and other diseases in nonsmokers and represents a serious public health concern. Besides causing DNA damage and mutation, SHS can induce other molecular changes (namely epigenetic changes) that may lead to cancer development. This is an unexplored area of research that requires further investigation. In this application, we propose a unique and innovative study aiming to gain preliminary data on impact of SHS on epigenetic changes, which has enormous public health relevance. The studies described in this “Pilot Research Award” application will investigate, for the first time, the cancer-causing potential of SHS, through epigenetic mechanisms, in a validated mouse model. Using state-of-the-art technologies, we will leverage our collection of lung specimens from mice sub-chronically exposed to SHS smoke and measure reversible and irreversible molecular changes that are known to be associated with cancer. The completion of the studies described in this application will help us verify whether the adverse consequences of SHS exposure are mediated by epigenetic mechanisms and device strategies for intervention.