A University of California researcher has received a three-year $270,000 new investigator award from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) to study how tobacco exposure exacerbates COPD.

Ayala Luria, PhD, a research associate in the UC Davis laboratory of distinguished entomology professor Bruce Hammock, PhD, said her grant will help to ultimately find a cure for pulmonary inflammatory-associated disease.

"This disease and its complications are expected to become the third leading cause of death by the year of 2020," said Luria in reference to the COPD epidemic. Even when COPD patients with long tobacco use quit smoking, the "inflammatory response of many COPD patients doesn’t resolve with the cessation of smoking," the scientist said.

"In our laboratory, under the mentorship of Dr. Hammock, we found that increasing endogenous levels of anti-inflammatory mediators significantly reduce the inflammatory response," Luria said, explaining that "These mediators are products of arachidonic acids– polyunsaturated fatty acids with an oxygen ring-that have strong biological activity. We increase their intracellular levels by inhibiting their degradation (by the enzyme soluble epoxide hydrolase) or by molecular approaches."

Luria received one of five new investigator grants awarded this year by TRDRP, which supports research that focuses on the prevention, causes, and treatment of tobacco-related disease and the reduction of the human and economic costs of tobacco use in California.

TRDP is funded through Proposition 99, "The Tobacco Tax and Health Protection Act of 1988," which instituted a 25-cent-per pack cigarette surtax to fund research on tobacco-related diseases in the state.

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