Pankow receives NIH grant to study nicotine, carcinogens in tobacco smoke

James Pankow



Portland, Ore.— A professor at Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology has received a $441,389 National Institutes of Health grant to study nicotine and carcinogenic compounds in tobacco smoke.

Dr. James Pankow, who has gained international attention for research showing how ammonia increases the chemical availability of nicotine from cigarette smoke, recently received the three-year, grant from NIH through its National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The project extends from Sept. 30, 1998, to June 30, 2001.

"The purpose of the work is to not only look at nicotine, but also to look at carcinogenic compounds," says Pankow, who heads the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering.

"We're looking into how easily all of these compounds come off of tobacco smoke particles. Nicotine, as well as these carcinogens, have to get out of the small tobacco smoke particles to get into the body."

Addiction physiologists contend the faster nicotine gets into the body, the more addictive it will be.

The carcinogens that Pankow's research team will study are the tobacco smoke N-nitrosamines, many of which are highly carcinogenic.

In 1997, Pankow's research group showed that an increased presence of the pH-boosting compound ammonia in cigarette smoke can help nicotine leave cigarette smoke and enter the body. Similar experiments will be done on the highly carcinogenic N-nitrosamines.

Results from the research are expected to be of great interest to the Food and Drug Administration, which has sought regulatory control over cigarettes.

"This study will be of interest to the FDA because it helps elucidate the connection between tobacco smoke chemistry and cigarette addiction as well as lung cancer," Pankow says.