Dr. Sarah Commodore to seek potential long-term effects on lung function
An assistant professor with Indiana University’s School of Public Health-Bloomington recently received a $30,000 award for a pilot study of the effects of e-cigarette use on lung function. Dr. Sarah Commodore, of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, will serve as principal investigator on the "Vaping and the Adolescent Lung" (VALu) pilot over the course of one year.
"There are many gene expression data right now from vape and e-cigarette users that we currently have, and there are already many data that have been collected on lung function," Commodore explains. "My part is to take some of the same data that were used for the gene expression analyses to do epigenetic analyses. We do not want to see just what goes on inside the genes. We want to see what’s going on outside of the genes also—and see whether there is any kind of association between all of those and what’s happening in [the vape and e-cigarette users’] lungs."
The VALu pilot project is supported by Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health -Related Research (PRIDE)—a collection of mentoring programs funded via the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. PRIDE includes training and dedicated project funding in several areas, including its Impact of Ancestry and Gender on Omics of Lung Diseases (AGOLD) program.
Early research suggests vaping may negatively affect lung function, but its effects on long-term users remain unknown. "If I’ve been [vaping] in middle school and high school and in college, what is it really doing to my lungs and what is it doing to my nasal epithelium?" Commodore asks.
She continues, "[Vape users] might not have very bad lungs currently, but can we find very early markers or indicators that show that there is a pattern towards decreased lung function?"
Depending on VALu's findings, next steps could include conducting larger, future cohort studies. "We would like to start looking at [U.S.] states that have a really high prevalence of vape or e-cigarette users, see if we can find those [states' users], detect them early, and then, hopefully at some point, design interventions to help," she adds.