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Superfund Research Program

April 14, 2016

Northeastern SRP Center Releases New Reproductive Health Bulletin for Health Care Professionals

The Northeastern University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT), and the Northeastern Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico collaborated to produce a Reproductive Health and the Environment Bulletin, which presents up-to-date research about environmental exposures and preterm birth.

The bulletin focuses specifically on the body of evidence that shows how various chemicals may affect reproductive outcomes, including early-onset puberty, decreased fertility, and preterm births. It provides a comprehensive overview of research on health outcomes associated with exposure to pesticides, bisphenol A, perfluoroalkyl substances, phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, air pollution, lead, and polychlorinated biphenyls. In addition to the broad overview of chemicals and their health effects, the bulletin also outlines PROTECT’s findings to date, including a study on the associations between phenols and parabens with oxidative stress and inflammation that may cause adverse birth outcomes.

The bulletin also provides a list of resources and steps to take to avoid exposures. This includes a list of concrete steps health care professionals can take to educate patients and help prevent, diagnose, and treat health problems. See the Reproductive Health and the Environment Bulletin for more information.

April 12, 2016

Special Issue Highlights Invited Reviews from the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health

Reviews on Environmental Health

A special issue of the journal Reviews on Environmental Health highlights the 16th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium (PBC) for Environment and Health with invited reviews from conference presenters. This issue, which includes articles from Superfund Research Program (SRP) staff and grantees, contains reviews on issues related to the Pacific Basin, such as exposure to electronic waste, metals, and other hazardous wastes; water and ecosystem health; natural disasters and a changing environment; children’s health; and emerging issues in the region.

The NIEHS SRP was a sponsor of the PBC International Conference, held August 10 - 13, 2015, at the University of Indonesia. SRP staff and grantees were involved throughout the conference, which focused on the most pressing environment and health issues of our time, cooperative research, and innovative strategies for addressing these issues.

The issue includes an editorial by NIEHS SRP Director Bill Suk, Ph.D., on the history of the PBC, what it has helped accomplish, and new directions for the Consortium. In a review, Suk highlights models for reducing the burden of disease with changing exposures in a changing world. NIEHS SRP Health Scientist Administrator Michelle Heacock, Ph.D., was also featured with her review on the growing global problem of electronic waste and next steps for addressing this problem.

An article by Jeffrey Crosby, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of Picoyune, an SRP-funded small business, highlighted lessons learned transferring a mercury sensor from the bench to the field. SRP supported the sensor’s initial development as part of the University of California (UC) Berkeley SRP Center. An article by Dartmouth SRP Center researcher Celia Chen, Ph.D., discusses connecting mercury science to policy through her work on uptake of mercury into seafood. A review by UC San Diego SRP Center researcher Keith Pezzoli, Ph.D., discusses creating healthy and just bioregions and rethinking strategies to improve public health, especially in disadvantaged communities where the cumulative impacts of toxicant exposure and other environmental and social stressors are most damaging.

To read more from the conference, see the Reviews on Environmental Health Special Edition.

March 25, 2016

Chemical Discovered at UC Davis May Be New Tool for Depression Therapy

Bruce Hammock
Hammock is a distinguished professor of entomology with a joint appointment at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

(Photo courtesy of UC Davis)

A chemical discovered at the University of California (UC) Davis may be a new, innovative tool to control depression, a severe and chronic psychiatric disease that affects 350 million people worldwide.

The research, led by UC Davis Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center Director Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., involves studies of an inhibitor of soluble epoxide hydrolase in rodents. Soluble epoxide hydrolase, or sEH, is emerging as a therapeutic target in humans that acts on a number of inflammatory or inflammation-linked diseases.

"The research in animal models of depression suggests that sEH plays a key role in modulating inflammation, which is involved in depression," said Hammock. "Inhibitors of sEH protect natural lipids in the brain that reduce inflammation and neuropathic pain. Thus, these inhibitors could be potential therapeutic drugs for depression."

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the role of the potent sEH inhibitor known as TPPU. The researchers found that TPPU displayed rapid antidepressant effects in rodents. They also found that expression of sEH was higher in key brain regions of chronically stressed mice than in control mice. For more information on the study and its authors, see the UC Davis press release.

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