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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

BEST monitoring effect of e-cigarette emissions

Dr Róisín Owens, BioElectronics Systems Technology (BEST) group prinicpal investigator, has developed an electrochemical transistor that can monitor the effect of e-cigarette emissions.

Dr Róisín M. Owens, principal investigator of our BioElectronics Systems Technology group, along with lead author Dr Magali Ferro, and research collaborators in France, have published the paperOrganic Bioelectronics: Effect of E Cigarette Emissions on Tracheal Cells Monitored at the Air–Liquid Interface Using an Organic Electrochemical Transistor in the journal Advanced Biosystems.

Dr Owens, Marc Ramuz and co‐workers present a flexible electronic platform to monitor airway tissue integrity at the air‐liquid interface. This platform is based on an organic electrochemical transistor with a flexible gate designed to interact with cell‐secreted mucus. This technology is successfully used to investigate the impact of E‐cigarette vapours on the human tracheal epithelium.

When researchers adapted a new type of flexible electrode to measure the effects of e-cigarette vapour on the lining of the human airway, they found that the vapour causes a decrease in the barrier function of this tissue over time. The findings are concerning because this barrier function is important for protection against airborne diseases and preventing pollution from entering the body.

This study is focused on finding out how e-cigarettes may compromise protective airway cells and the results indicate that e-cigarettes are not risk free and that additional studies are needed to determine the extent of their effects on health. The flexible electrodes used in this study could also be adapted to measure the effects of compounds on other tissues, such as the skin.

Co-author Dr. Róisín Owens commented: “Our flexible electrode technology has enabled us to test how e-cigarette vapour formulations affect airway tissue in real time. Future work will focus on narrowing down which components of the formulation are harmful.” 

See the full research article here. Find more information on the groundbreaking work from our BEST group and interact with Dr Owens on Twitter @biochemist_hero and @BioElSystTech.

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