Biomedical Research Institute of New Mexico
Cigarette Smoke Affects Lungs' "Biological Clock"
Exposure to cigarette smoke increases the risk of emphysema. One possible mechanism may be that contents of smoke shorten the length of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control the process by which each cell ages. Dr. Nyunoya's hypothesis is that aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1 (ALDH3A1), an enzyme used to detoxify reactive aldehydes contained in cigarette smoke may change the biological clock. His in vitro studies demonstrated that an increased amount of ALDH3A1 protects against DNA damage and cell death in response to cigarette smoke exposure. Based on the mechanisms identified by this research, he plans to develop a novel treatment for emphysema.