$150,000 Awarded to UA SBRP Investigator Ornella Selmin to Examine "Folate as a Nutrient Competitor against Environmental Exposure to Trichloroethylene”

May 2, 2007

The Arizona Biomedical Research Commission (AZBRC) awarded Dr. Ornella Selmin a total of $150,000 for the next three years to support her research proposal entitled, "Folate as a Nutrient Competitor against Environmental Exposure to Trichloroethylene”.

AZBRC’s mission is to foster and support Arizona researchers and clinicians in order to make Arizona a world-class medical leader. The AZBRC awards contracts for projects researching the causes, epidemiology and diagnosis, formulation of cures, medically accepted treatment and prevention of diseases. Nine Commission Members guide the work of the AZBRC.  Commission Members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The objective of Dr. Selmin’s proposal is to assess how dietary folic acid deficiency and supplementation effects the alteration of phenotype and gene expression induced by maternal exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE). The study will test whether:

  • A reduction of folate in the diet decreases the amount of methyl groups available for DNA methylation and consequently affects normal heart development
  • A folate supplemented diet may help to overcome the effects of TCE exposure during development
  • Exposure to TCE will affect the level of gene expression in the embryonic heart and if these pre-selected genes can be used as markers of TCE-induced heart malformations

This proposal seeks to clarify some of these mechanisms and develop preventive strategies based on specific nutrients, which may be administered during pregnancy to expectant mothers. Results from this study will be important for the design of strategies aimed at protecting or preventing the onset of heart defects in environmentally exposed populations.

Please join the UA SBRP in congratulating Dr. Selmin.