The vision of NIEHS is to use environmental health sciences to understand human disease and improve human health. Below are some research highlights from NIEHS scientists since its founding in 1966.
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Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Programs established
Work began on four new centers to study the prenatal-to-adult environmental exposures that may predispose a woman to breast cancer. The centers were jointly funded by NIEHS and the National Cancer Institute and included transdisciplinary teams of scientists, clinicians, and breast cancer advocates. The centers were established at the University of Cincinnati; Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia; the University of California, San Francisco; and Michigan State University. The program has since moved into a second phase that replaces the centers with an expanded set of investigator and community partners around the nation and a reorganized advisory committee that represents scientific expertise and the breast cancer survivor and advocacy community.
Tags: breast cancer
Cadmium inactivates cell repair system
A heavy metal environmental toxicant, cadmium, can inactivate an important cellular repair system, NIEHS researchers showed. Cadmium was found to cause mutations in DNA by inhibiting DNA mismatch repair. This mismatch repair system is important for keeping mutations from occurring during DNA synthesis.
Defective alleles in liver enzymes linked to poor drug metabolism
NIEHS researchers in the Human Metabolism Group announced the identification and functional characterization of potentially defective alleles in human liver enzymes that are responsible for metabolizing therapeutic drugs, including anti-clotting medications and antidepressants. Genetic polymorphisms in the enzyme result in poor metabolism of the drugs. The researchers focused on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CYPC19.
Toxin destroys macrophages, enabling anthrax to invade host
NIEHS-supported children's health researchers at the University of California at San Diego discovered that B. anthrax evades the host immune system, using a toxin called lethal factor to destroy macrophages and spread throughout the body. These results may explain why anthrax infections proceed nearly undetected until the patient is very sick and near death.
Two new lines of genetically altered mice developed to study cancer
NIEHS researchers produced two lines of genetically altered mice that have a significant impact on the study of cancer development. Research with these mice showed that removal of two genes, COX-1 and COX-2, lead to a significant decrease in development of colon, skin, and intestinal cancers in laboratory animals.