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BAT's novel vaping product shows minimal toxicity in laboratory tests

March 12, 2019

A series of in vitro toxicology tests provide evidence that British American Tobacco's novel vaping product produces greatly reduced mutagenicity, cytotoxicity and effects on wound healing as compared to cigarette smoke.

Scientists at BAT carried out tests to characterise the biological impact of a prototype e-cigarette. The tests assessed and compared the mutagenicity, genotoxicity, cytotoxicity and tumour-promoting potential of a reference cigarette (3R4F) and a novel e-cigarette with a unique aerosolisation technology.

Total particulate matter (TPM) from each was tested, following OECD testing guidelines, using the Ames bacterial reverse mutation assay; the mouse lymphoma assay; the in vitro micronucleus assay; the neutral red uptake cell viability assay; and the Bhas 42 cell transformation assay.

Unsurprisingly, TPM from cigarette smoke tested positive in all assays. In stark contrast, TPM from the novel vaping product failed to elicit a response, even at much higher doses.

The scientists then tested extreme doses (exposures) of aerosol from the novel e-cigarette using the cytotoxicity assay and a modified mutagenicity assay, but these tests also showed significantly reduced responses compared to the reference cigarette, confirming the TPM results.

"The vapour from the novel e-cigarette did not have an appreciable effect even at doses exceeding those of cigarette smoke," said Marianna Gaca, Head of Pre-Clinical Assessment at BAT. "This study further supports the growing consensus that e-cigarettes are significantly less toxic than cigarette smoke and that the novel aerosolisation technology introduced with this prototype is no different."

Further in vitro studies were conducted and included endothelial wound healing and the application of contemporary screening approaches to study over 12 different toxicity and oxidative stress endpoints relating to lung function. Where 3R4F inhibited wound repair in endothelial cells and resulted in positive responses for oxidative stress and 6 other toxicity endpoints, the novel e-cigarette showed little or no activity in any of the in vitro assays where it was assessed.

The results show that this novel vaping product has the potential to be a reduced risk product compared to cigarette smoking, though further longer-term studies are required to substantiate this potential.

R&D at British American Tobacco

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