Irfan Rahman Studies Respiratory Risk of E-Cigarette Flavorings
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
The label may say “cinnamon” or “vanilla” but the true contents of e-cigarette flavorings are acetoin, diacetyl, and other chemical additives that are known to irritate the respiratory tract and impair lung function, according to a collaborative study from western New York scientists.
Senior author Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine and part of the Lung Biology and Disease Program, said the findings suggest that chemical flavorings in e-cigarettes not only cause inflammation but may rapidly impair the critical epithelial cells in the airways, which act as the first defense against infections and toxins. When the epithelial barrier becomes more permeable or leaky due to chemical assaults, life-threatening lung diseases can occur.
For example, volatile flavoring chemicals (such as the butter flavor in microwave popcorn) have been linked to severe lung diseases among workers at food manufacturing plants who were routinely exposed during production, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The local study was published by the journal, Applied In Vitro Toxicology. Janice Gerloff, a technician in Rahman’s laboratory, and Isaac Sundar, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at URMC, worked with chemists and engineers at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University at Buffalo to study the chemical characteristics of a sampling of flavored liquids used in vape pens, e-hookahs, e-cigars, e-pipes obtained from local vape shops. More than 450 brands of e-cig products with more than 8,000 flavors (including chocolate, menthol, mango, and cotton candy) are on the market, the study said.
Although the Flavor Extracts Manufacturers Association has certified these chemicals as safe, scientists are concerned about consumers inhaling them in high concentrations. Many e-cig flavors also are laced with nicotine. Researchers tested the emissions of flavored liquids and created a “puff profile” and a chemical profile for each flavor. They also treated human lung cells with the vaping chemicals and observed a potent reaction as pro-inflammatory cells transformed lung epithelial cells, making them more vulnerable to injury and illness.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products, funded the research.
Distinguished Neurotoxicologist Award 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017
The Society of Toxicology (SOT) Neurotoxicology Specialty Section (NTSS) Awards Committee has selected Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta as the recipient of the Distinguished Neurotoxicologist Award. This award will be presented at the NTSS Reception that will be held on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at the Hilton Baltimore Key Ballroom 6.
Dr. Cory-Slechta has demonstrated a life-long commitment to neurotoxicology. She has been a pioneer in championing neurotoxicology and behavioral science, and in exploring the interactions of chemical and non-chemical stressors to understand the complex etiology of behavioral diseases. This research is highlighted, for example, in experimental work confirming that low-level lead exposure alters neurodevelopment, which was highly influential in setting federal guidelines for developmental lead exposures. Her more recent research including that on the interactions between air pollution exposure and socioeconomic stress on neurodevelopment also promises to be highly influential. In addition, Dr. Cory-Slechta has served extensively in a variety of administrative roles including as Department Chair, Institute Director, and Dean for Research at two prominent academic programs on occupational and environmental health. She also has served on numerous federal advisory panels and as an Officer and President of the NTSS. This overall record of research accomplishments and service marks a singularly distinguished career in neurotoxicology that is recognized by this award.
The committee considered three superb nominations for the Distinguished Neurotoxicologist Award. The review panel (Drs. William Boyes (chair), Michelle Block, Aaron Bowman, Steven Lasley, and Marion Ehrich) carefully evaluated these nominations relative to contributions to the science of neurotoxicology, the use of neurotoxicological science in making risk assessment and regulatory decisions, and service to the NTSS and the field of neurotoxicology. All three nominees were outstanding, exceptionally accomplished, and each has made strong contributions to neurotoxicology. Unfortunately, in any one year we are able to select only one individual for the Distinguished Neurotoxicologist Award.
The Neurotoxicology Specialty Section (NTSS) has a rich history of outstanding scientists advancing our field through research, regulatory, and service accomplishments. In the past, NTSS has recognized four scientists as Distinguished Investigators in the field of Neurotoxicology from 2001 through 2006 and Dr. Joan Cranmer in 2008 for Distinguished Service to Neurotoxicology. However, despite many accomplished scientists contributing greatly and in a variety of ways to the field, this award has been dormant since 2008. In an effort to establish a continuous mechanism to acknowledge the top leaders in our field, the NTSS leadership reinstated a career recognition award, now called the Distinguished Neurotoxicologist Award. This year, we established clear criteria, defined procedures, encouraged nominations, and convened a committee to evaluate applications. For those interested, the details of this process can be found on the NTSS website.
Congratulations to Dr. Cory-Slechta
Thursday, February 9, 2017
University of Rochester Medical Center scientists have discovered new essential information about omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish oil and how they could be used for asthma patients.
In a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation—Insight, researchers using cell cultures from local asthma patients, found that:
- Omega-3 fatty acid products can reduce the production of IgE, the antibodies that cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms in people with milder cases of asthma
- But in patients with severe asthma who use high doses of oral steroids, the omega-3 fatty acids are less effective because the corticosteroids block the beneficial effects
Lead author Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D., the Wright Family Research Professor of Environmental Medicine, and his lab had previously shown that certain fatty acids contained in fish oil regulate the function of immune cells (B cells). They wanted to further investigate the effects on asthma.
People with asthma have an imbalance between molecules that dampen inflammation and those that increase inflammation. Using steroids as treatment controls the inflammation and relieves symptoms, but does not cure the underlying disease.
Read More: Evidence Points to Fish Oil to Fight Asthma