TTUHSC researchers studying effects of vaping on the brain

For Your Health

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Researchers at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy are using a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the effects of vaping on the brain.

The research will help the FDA to create safety guidelines for vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes.

This research will serve as a continuation of ongoing work between Dr. Thomas Abbruscato and Dr. Luca Cucullo. With this three-year, $1.36 million grant, the two hope to better understand the effects of vaping on the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the brain.

“We know that cigarette smokers have an increased risk for stroke, about two-fold. We’ve known that for a number of years now,” said Dr. Abbruscato. “What we really want to answer is, what is the increased risk for stroke with vaping?”

Dr. Cucullo said they also want to compare the toxicity of e-cigarettes versus the toxicity of regular tobacco products and answer basic questions for the FDA, such as: Are vaping products toxic and how toxic are they?

“Most of these e-cigarettes were advertised as safe products to replace regular smoking and actually now, we know from the use that doesn’t seem to be exactly the case,” Dr. Cucullo said.

Dr. Abbruscato said the studies are mostly preclinical, with a focus on biomarkers of injury due to vaping.

“So these are injuries that can be detected potentially in the blood to kind of be predictive of any type of injury from long term exposure to nicotine through e-cigarettes or vaping products,” Dr. Abbruscato added.

Dr. Cucullo said they hope the research will help the FDA to avoid repeating the mistakes made with cigarette smoking, taking a more proactive approach with appropriate health warnings and bans as needed.

The study will assess and compare the effects of different products, including standard e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes, and the popular brand Juul.

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