Investigating the human health implications of e-cigarettes: An in-vitro mechanistic toxicology approach

Research Collaboration

Nearly 3 million adults in the UK alone use e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking. While the dangers of smoking tobacco are well documented and proven, and despite the manufacture, sale and safety of e-cigarettes being strictly regulated in the UK, some health bodies and regulators are holding back on recommending e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. This is largely due to gaps in research. Lumo Liquids has formed a collaborative research partnership with Swansea University with the aim to gain further understanding of any potential risks to humans from using e-cigarettes, more specifically, within the lungs, and associated health issues.

The project will focus on developing and characterising a novel, next-level alternative testing strategy to animal-based experimental approaches. Using this strategy, various e-cigarette liquids (e-liquids) will be tested for their general human health risk, with the aim to understand what effect the liquids, particles, and both combined have on the human body.

The project will apply the new in-vitro testing model, within a machine which can artificially ‘vape’ the e-cigarettes, and pass vapour over an advanced cell culture, while in monitored conditions, as well as measuring chemical and particle concentrations within the vapour. This is different to other work previously conducted in 2 ways; both the exposure method – applying a vapour directly onto cell cultures, and the cell cultures being 2 types of epithelial cell, with immune cells.

The project will add to current research into testing of consumer goods, and use the information gained to influence the design of e-cigarettes, flavoured e-liquids and contribute to regulation and laws regarding e-cigarettes. This will all help provide consumers who wish to use e-cigarettes with key information on whether there exists any risk of using e-cigarettes, ensuring that they can make a fully informed decision in choosing e-cigarette products.

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Financial support has been received from SMARTCymru to part-fund the purchase of vital equipment for this project.

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