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Center for Novel Biomarkers of Response

Joel Pounds, Principal Investigator

Funding Agency: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative

The Center for Novel Biomarkers of Response is part of the NIH's Exposure Biology Program, the ultimate goal of which is to understand the development and progression of complex disease by precisely, accurately, and quantitatively assessing the individual’s exposure to environmental stressors and the individual’s responses to these stressors. Research through the Center is focused on identifying and validating proteins in plasma related to two important risk factors for human morbidity and mortality: the stressors cigarette smoke and obesity.

Both exposure to cigarette smoke and obesity are associated with systemic chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. The inflammatory and oxidative stress responses may be the unifying mechanism underlying the development of co-morbidities in cigarette smoke and obesity and the interaction of these risk factors with other environmental toxicants and the genome.

Per the inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways, reactive nitrogen species (RNS) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) modify proteins, and these modified proteins may be indicators, or biosignatures, of cellular response to stressors. The Center comprises human, mouse, and sensor projects using proteomics and ELISA microarray technology cores to meet four goals related to the RNS/ROS-related biosignatures:

  • Discover RNS/ROS-modified peptides as candidate biomarkers with specificity and persistence for environmental stress
  • Verify RNS/ROS modified peptides as specific biosignatures for environmental stressors
  • Validate RNS/ROS modified proteins for use as specific biomarkers for environmental stressors
  • Develop, test, and deploy two detector systems for exposure and for both specific and general markers of RNS/ROS response.

As a result of these studies, scientists will be able to identify biosignatures related to cigarette smoke, obesity, and exposure to cigarette smoke compounded by obesity. Moreover, researchers will be better able to assess the susceptibility of populations to stressor effects; elucidate the relationship between genes, exposure, and human disease; and improve the scientific community’s ability to compare, contrast, and extrapolate biomarkers between humans and mice.

Information for this page was derived, and in places used verbatim, from the U54 RFA solicitation Center Award information authored by PNNL's Joel Pounds et al., and accessed via NIH's Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative website.

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