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December 2013

The American Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association to Co-Fund Research into Lung Disease

December 18, 2013 -- The American Thoracic Society Foundation and the American Lung Association announced today that they are co-funding an $80,000 grant that will support important research into the mechanisms underlying Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS), a rare inherited disease which affects a number of organs including the lungs. 

Understanding HPS, which causes fibrosis, or scarring, of the lungs, may accelerate the discovery of therapies for more common lung diseases like cystic fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The two-year, $80,000 ATS Foundation/American Lung Association Research Grant will fund research being performed by Souheil El-Chemaly, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and the clinical director of the Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. El-Chemaly’s study, “Zebrafish xenotransplantation model to study HPS pulmonary fibrosis,” will focus on cells called fibroblasts, which are involved in lung fibrosis in HPS patients.  His team will explore how HPS fibroblasts differ from those in normal lungs and whether treatment can make them behave like normal fibroblasts.  These studies will be performed in zebrafish embryos, a new model for studying HPS pulmonary fibrosis which may have use in subsequent studies assessing the effectiveness of new treatments. The researchers will also explore whether measurement of proteins derived from HPS fibroblasts in the blood of HPS patients can predict disease severity.

“Our research will not only help identify new treatment targets for this devastating disease but our new disease model will help in future research efforts,” says Dr. El-Chemaly. “Our findings will also have implications for studies of treatments for pulmonary fibrosis not caused by HPS. I am honored that the ATS and the American Lung Association have recognized the value of our work.”

Renewing a relationship between the ATS and the Lung Association that dates back over a hundred years, the ATS Foundation and the Lung Association plan to co-fund a grant for lung cancer research next year and look forward to supporting research into other respiratory diseases in the future.

Current levels of funding for respiratory research from government and other sources do not reflect the enormous medical, economic, and societal burden of respiratory disease in the United States.“If we are to advance the speed of discovery to find better ways to prevent and cure lung disease,” according to Stephen Crane, PhD. ATS Executive Director, “even greater collaborative effort between the ATS and the Lung Association will be required in the future. ATS commits to this goal.”

The funding provided by the ATS Foundation/American Lung Association Research grants will help close this gap and further the missions of both organizations to improve the respiratory health of patients worldwide. “We welcome this chance to combine resources with the American Thoracic Society and support this promising research that might not have been possible without this collaboration,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “An exciting aspect of this research is that it may impact several types of deadly lung diseases. We look forward to more opportunities like this to partner with ATS in the future.”

About the American Thoracic Society
Founded in 1905, the American Thoracic Society is the world's leading medical association dedicated to advancing pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. The Society’s 15,000 members prevent and fight respiratory disease around the globe through research, education, patient care and advocacy.Since its inception in 2002, the ATS Foundation has awarded $10 million in grants to more than 100 junior investigators who have gone on to receive over $100 million in subsequent grant funding.

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. In 2013 the American Lung Association funded 87 research grants totaling $9 million. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit http://www.lung.org/.

American Thoracic Society Applauds NYC’s Banning on Indoor Use of E-Cigarettes

December 20, 2013 – The American Thoracic Society, which has been based in New York City since 1905, is pleased with the city council vote yesterday prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor public areas where smoking regular cigarettes is also banned.

The measure, which was backed by Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is the latest in a series of initiatives from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to curb tobacco use which have included raising tobacco taxes and banning smoking of traditional cigarettes in public places, a move which has been duplicated by a number of other U.S. cities.

The ATS recently released a policy statement on the regulation of e-cigarettes, available here, which recommends that federal, state and municipal authorities should assert jurisdiction and effectively regulate e-cigarettes, including setting age restrictions for their sale and regulating their content and advertising.
The growth of e-cigarettes is challenging because most state and local tobacco laws were enacted before the development of e-cigarettes. And states without policies are being lobbied aggressively by the tobacco industry to exempt e-cigarettes from both state excise tobacco taxes and from state smoke-free bans. In some states, it is legal for children younger than 18 to buy e-cigarettes.
The federal government has not yet taken action regulatory action e-cigarettes but is expected soon to release proposed rules to extend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authority over e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. The release of the proposed rules will start a lengthy public comment process that will eventually lead to FDA regulations on e-cigarettes, but it is likely tobacco industry will file several legal challenges seeks to weaken or delay FDA’s rules.
The ATS applauds the city council for taking this important step to protect the public from the potential adverse risks associated with e-cigarettes.
For further comment:
Frank T. Leone, MD
Vice-Chair, American Thoracic Society Tobacco Action Committee

American Thoracic Society Applauds Mayor Bloomberg’s Ban of E-Cigarettes in Public Places

December 31, 2013  – The American Thoracic Society applauds New York City Mayor Michael  Bloomberg for signing into law a City Council measure to ban e-cigarettes wherever  smoking is prohibited in the city.
“Contrary to arguments by a former public health official in  a major national health association and other opponents of the measure, touting e-cigarettes as a  safe aid for quitting smoking is premature, as the potential adverse health  consequences of their use have not been well studied,” said Stephen Crane, Ph.D.,  Executive Director of the ATS. “E-cigarettes deliver nicotine just as  cigarettes do, yet they are not subject to the same FDA oversight of their  content and manufacture.”
The  ATS has long fought in the battle against tobacco addiction and supports the  urgent need for more effective therapies. In addition to the lack of clarity on  the possible health effects of e-cigarettes, the ATS believes these devices are  a potential gateway to smoking among young people, to whom they are heavily  marketed.
The ATS recently released a policy statement on the  regulation of e-cigarettes, available here, which recommends that federal,  state and municipal authorities should assert jurisdiction and effectively  regulate e-cigarettes, including setting age restrictions for their sale  and regulating  their content and advertising.