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Annual Meeting of the Brain Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation

2005 Annual Report

  1. Background
     
    In February, 2003, the Board established the Brain Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation. In March, 2004 the Foundation amended its Articles of Incorporation to change its name to Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation (Foundation) and to specify that its purpose is related to the effects of air pollution on brain tumors and lung cancer. To carry out its purpose, the Foundation has funded research projects investigating the links between air pollution and brain and lung tumors. The dollar amount of the funding provided to date is $717,590. The projects are described in greater detail below.

    The mission of the Foundation is to support research studies on the association between air pollution and brain and lung tumors, as well as research for the development of novel therapeutics for such tumors. Additionally, the Board directed that 10% of the penalty fees collected by the AQMD in FY 2002-03—approximately $723,000—be transferred to the Foundation to establish a research program.
     

  2. Directors and Officers
     

    The Directors of the Foundation are:

    Michael D. Antonovich, Chairman
    Robert Davidson, Vice Chairman
    Hal Bernson
    Bea LaPisto-Kirtley, Ex Officio Member

    (see also Item 6 below)

    The Foundation’s staff is:

    Barry Wallerstein, Chief Executive Officer
    Chery Cooper, Secretary
    Rick Pearce, Treasurer

  3. Report on the Foundation’s Activities and Plans
     

    Research Projects Funded to Date and Progress

  1. Grant BTAP001: "Brain Tumors and Air Pollution"
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Keith Black, Cedars Sinai Medical Center
    Funding: $559,250
     
    At the request of the investigators, the grant performance period was extended to June, 30, 2005. Complex negotiations between Cedars Sinai and the University of California on research protocols led to delays in starting the experiments. The investigators collaborated with U.C. Irvine to conduct the exposures for the study.
     
    The purpose of this grant is to investigate the biochemical and pathological changes in brain tissue of laboratory animals exposed to air pollutants, and whether any observed changes may be linked to formation and growth of tumors. The pollutants studied are ambient particulate matter, including coarse, fine, and ultrafine particulates, and toxic air contaminants that may be linked to brain tumor risk. Analyses include gene expression and tissue morphology changes.
     
    Exposures of laboratory animals to concentrated ambient particulate matter for two weeks, as well as exposures of laboratory animals for three months to two toxic air contaminants -benzene and naphthalene - have been completed. These exposures were conducted in collaboration with researchers at the U.C. Irvine Medical School. Tissue samples from these experiments are currently undergoing biochemical and pathological analyses. Current funding will cover the completion of these analyses.
     
    Preliminary findings from the animals exposed to ambient particulates indicate that the activities of some genes are altered in brain cells. One of these genes is related to production of a growth factor. These results, though preliminary, are intriguing and indicate that exposures to particles may be associated with alteration of cell regulation that could theoretically be associated with a pathway to cancer.
     
    Results from studies funded by other agencies are also finding changes in brain tissues after particulate exposures. These include changes in biochemical markers for inflammation, and well as evidence of migration of particles into brain tissue. This migration may occur by particles penetrating the lungs into the bloodstream or by direct migration through nerve cells from the nose and upper airways into the olfactory bulb of the brain. Although additional study is needed to confirm these findings, the initial data indicate that this area may be fruitful in elucidating the toxic effects of particulate matter.
     

  2. Grant BTAP002: "Brain Tumor and Air Pollution: Studies of Existing Data"
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan Preston-Martin, USC School of Medicine
    Funding: $158,340
     
    At the request of the investigators, the grant performance period was extended to June 30, 2005. The start of the analytical work was delayed due to negations between USC and the state agencies involved in the collection of the data for approval of the research protocols and data confidentiality issues.
     
    The project consists of two parts. One is to analyze existing data on cause of mortality and air pollution levels from a national cohort of individuals that the American Cancer Society (ACS) has been following for over 20 years. Previous analysis of this database revealed that particulate levels were associated with an increased risk for lung cancer. The task for the current grant is to conduct a similar analysis for brain cancer deaths.
     
    The second component of the proposed study is to conduct an epidemiology study of exposure to air pollutants and the incidence of brain tumors in children living in the South Coast Air Basin. There were insufficient funds at the time of the project award to fund the complete proposal. This project received partial funding from the Foundation to cover the collection of data on children’s brain tumor incidence in the AQMD’s four-county area; and the preparation of this data for possible future study of the correlation of tumor incidence with past air pollution exposures should additional funding become available.
     
    The investigators have been working with statisticians from the ACS and the analysis of data from the ACS cohort on air pollutant levels and brain tumor deaths is nearly complete. The results will be summarized in the form of a manuscript for publication in a scientific journal. The final report is expected within a few months.
     
    The acquisition of data on children’s brain tumor incidence in the AQMD’s four-county area has been completed. The data available from the past two decades have been purchased, research protocols approved by the state agencies that collect the data, and the final quality assurance checks of the database is nearing completion. The final database is expected within the next few months. The data is being prepared in a format suitable for possible future study of the correlation of tumor incidence with past air pollution exposures. Staff estimates an additional $450,000 would be needed to complete the exposure analyses described in the original proposal, which would consist of estimating past pollutant levels for particulates, ozone, and toxic air contaminants in the geographic areas were the children lived at the time of diagnosis, as well as pollutant levels at the place and time of birth for those children born in the four county area.
     
    Recent results form research funded by other agencies has found that exposures to air pollutants during pregnancy can alter the chemical composition of genetic material in newborns. While the importance to health of these changes is yet to be determined, there is indication that early life exposures to pollutants can alter genetic material.
     
    These results along with the preliminary findings from the Cedars Sinai study provide a scientific basis support the completion of the children’s epidemiology study. Completion of this study would provide the first analyses of a large regional database on the incidence of brain tumors in children with ambient pollution exposures.

Presentations to the Governing Board

At the last annual meeting, the Governing Board requested presentations by the investigators funded by the Foundation. As noted above, the studies are ongoing and will be completed in the next several months. Presentations will be made to the Board at that time.

  1. Financial Report
     
    As of January 31, 2005, the Foundation had a cash balance of $3,940. Following is an accounting of the Foundation’s operations since its inception (7/23/03):


Revenue from Operations

 

 


Contributions

$

722,568


Interest Income

$

873


Total Revenue from Operations

$

723,440


Operating Expenses

 

 


Grants Awarded

 

 


Cedars-Sinai

$

559,250


USC

$

158,340


Corporation Filing Costs

$

525


Bank charges

$

185


Professional fees-audit

$

1,200


Total Operating Expenses

$

719,500


Cash Balance

$

3,940


  1. Plans for Upcoming Year
     
    The Foundation will continue monitoring the progress of existing research projects. The Foundation will evaluate new projects and provide funding to the extent that additional funds become available.
     

  2. Appoint Beatrice LaPisto-Kirtley to the Board of Directors
     
    Under the Foundation’s bylaws, the Governing Board appoints directors to the Foundation’s Board. It is recommended that the Board appoint Beatrice LaPisto-Kirtley, currently an ex officio member of the Board of Directors.

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