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E-cigarette vapour does not trigger any significant toxicological response on human lung tissue, finds a new study.

The research by Imperial Brands compared the in-vitro toxicological responses of a 3D model of human lung tissue to vapour, from the firm’s vape brand myblu, and cigarette smoke across a range of biological endpoints.

While vapour delivered significantly more nicotine compared to the cigarette smoke, no significant toxicological responses found in tissues to vapour under test conditions, concludes the research presented at the 58th annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology earlier this year.

“Our ethical assays use cells derived from humans. This negates the need to test on animals, while targeting multiple endpoints of direct relevance to adult smokers,” said Dr Roman Wieczorek, group biological & toxicological laboratory manager at Imperial Brands Science and an author of the study.

The most striking observation involved the cilia on the surface of the cells – mobile, hair-like structures that line the airways and lungs, helping keep them clear of mucus and dirt.

After four weeks of repeated exposure to undiluted vapour, there was no recorded decrease in either the number of cilia, or the number of ciliated cells, with tissue integrity found indistinguishable from air control.

This was in marked contrast to cigarette smoke’s negative impact on lung cells, even when diluted at 1:17 ratio, the firm said in a statement.

Imperial said the findings contribute to the increasing evidence base substantiating vaping’s harm reduction potential compared to smoking.

“Our process of scientific substantiation focuses on all aspects of population level harm reduction, allowing us to develop robust scientific evidence packages that demonstrate the risk-reduced potential of our Next-Generation Products,” said Dr Grant O’Connell, head of scientific affairs at Imperial Brands.

“Unfortunately, media headlines based on misleading science containing non-realistic human exposures and extrapolated results continue to prove confusing and unhelpful at best and disastrous to the global public health agenda at worst.”