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Tobacco and cannabis preclinical studies

Tobacco & Cannabis Studies

The harmful effects of tobacco smoke exposure are well documented. While smoking prevention and cessation are key to bringing an end to this epidemic, scientific research is needed both to understand smoke-induced pathophysiological mechanisms and to develop novel therapeutic agents to treat patients.

Given the extended time period needed to generate sound scientific evidence, research on tobacco or tobacco-related products requires a joint effort. SCIREQ is proud to be part of these efforts by offering state-of-the-art equipment for basic in vivo and in vitro studies. Learn what Dr. Wold, a researcher at the forefront of inhaled toxicology research, has to say about the current state and future of the field.

Additionally, with increasing legalization of recreational cannabis, there is an increased interest in research into both the pulmonary effects of inhaled cannabis, as well as improving our understanding of the endocannabinoid system.

For more information on our pulmonary equipment for E-cigarette exposure studies, please feel free to visit our E-cigarette Application page.

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Versatile, programmable, reproducible

The smoke composition is influenced by a number of technical factors. The constituents of smoke or their concentrations will differ whether the smoke is drawn from side-stream, main-stream, or environmental tobacco smoke. It will also vary with the smoke preparation (e.g. cigarette brand, water filtered smoke or hookah, cigars, or e-cigarette liquids) or the puff profile used. Since studies assessing the impact of smoke are typically conducted over a prolonged time period, it is therefore important to consistently and reproducibly introduce the same smoke composition for each experimental session.

The inExpose is a versatile, programmable, and compact exposure system that can be configured with smoke generation devices (e.g. cigarette smoking robot, single cigarette chamber, e-cigarettes), or nebulizers to generate a wide range of exposures consistently within and between studies, as well as across laboratories. Using the inExpose system, researchers create accurate and reproducible models of smoke exposure for tobacco and cannabis studies using the automated generation of vapor, customizable puffing volumes, and frequencies.

There are two different cigarette and marijuana accessories for the inExpose system, the integrated Cigarette Smoking Robot (CSRi) and Single Cigarette Chamber (SCC), which are described in the table below. Both systems can provide pre-defined and customizable puffing profiles.

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Quantitative, integrative and translational outcomes

The impact of smoke exposure on the respiratory system can best be captured by evaluating the changes in lung function. These measurements are quantitative and can capture the effect of several disease determinants (e.g. extent and pattern of tissue destruction). The flexiVent system combines a wide selection of lung function measurements within a single device while offering the sensitivity to capture small but significant changes. Overall and detailed respiratory mechanics, specific lung volumes, pressure-volume, or flow-volume loops are examples of measurements that can be used to characterize the respiratory system in tobacco or e-cigarette-related studies, with some outcomes (e.g. FEV, lung volumes) also having a translational value.

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Chronic studies, ventilatory parameters

Smoke-related preclinical studies are often chronic studies involving repeated exposures over several months. During such studies, the harmful effects of smoke exposure on ventilation can be followed in a longitudinal manner using one of the plethysmography techniques (whole body, head-out, double-chamber). Parameters such as breathing frequency, tidal volume, or minute ventilation can be obtained non-invasively with these techniques, both under room air or altered atmospheric (e.g. hypoxia, hypercapnia) conditions. With the appropriate system configuration, the recording and computation of coughing events can also be achieved.

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Classic, relevant, translational

Smoking was established as a common determinant for smoke-related pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Exposures to smoke or its constituents can therefore affect airway and/or vascular smooth muscle contractility or relaxation. These effects can be directly addressed using tissue baths, a classic yet relevant and translational approach to study concentration-responses in isolated whole tissue preparations. The technique can be performed on contractile tissues from various sources or species under different conditions to simulate in vivo or clinical conditions (e.g. various oxygen concentrations).

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Reliable and effective in vitro exposure

Aerosol exposure studies conducted at the air/liquid interface are more scientifically relevant and predictive of human biology than in vitro studies conducted in submerged culture. The use of Transwells® permeable supports allows cells to uptake and secrete molecules separately on both their basal and apical surfaces, thereby carrying out metabolic activities in a more natural fashion. The ExpoCube replicates human physiology more closely than traditional cellular exposure systems by preventing the exposure of the culture medium (i.e. the blood side) to the gas phase, thereby creating a more natural or “lung-like” exposure profile.

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Reliable physiological biopotential signals

easyTEL implantable telemetry acquires multiple biopotentials (EEG, EMG, ECG, EOG), blood pressure, temperature, and activity to study changes in sleep in relation to epilepsy, hypertension, circadian rhythms, and more in small to large animals.

While the small animal implants acquire up to 2 biopotentials for up to 150 days, the large animal implants can record up to 4 biopotentials for up to 125 days.


Dr. Loren Wold

Dr. Wold’s lab studies the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on cardiac function, the effects of e-cigarette usage on the cardiovascular system, and the cardiac effects of dust from the collapsed World Trade Center on first responders in a preclinical model. Learn more about his research and get his thoughts on the current state and future of inhalation toxicology research in this interview.

Dr. Jessica Oakes &
Dr. Chiara Bellini

Dr. Oakes and Dr. Bellini research focuses on the pulmonary and cardiovascular consequences of inhaled cannabis. This group is at the forefront of preclinical respiratory research for cannabis. We were lucky enough to sit down with them and get their thoughts on the current state and future of cannabis-related cardiopulmonary research.

Pre-Clinical Models Of Smoke Exposure

In this on demand panel discussion, experts at the forefront of inhalation toxicology research delve into the topic of Pre-Clinical Models of Smoke Exposure. Drs. Alex Carll, Laura Crotty Alexander, Carolyn Baglole, and Alexandra Noël will provide deeper analysis of pre-clinical smoke modelling and the cardiopulmonary outcomes. 

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