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Pioneering Pilot Study Takes The “puff” Away From The E-cigarette Debate- And Replaces It With Real Research

As the ongoing “vaping debate” gathers pace, Trinity is excited to be working alongside the team at one of the UK’s most prestigious imaging companies which, just last week  released the results of a new pilot study highlighting for the first time the effects of “smoking” on the brain and nervous system.

Imanova’s Dr Matt Wall presented the results of the research on Tuesday [November 11th]  at the Global Addiction Conference in Rio de Janeiro, demonstrating how functional MRI scanning (fMRI) can provide researchers with the unique opportunity of visualising exactly what happens in a smoker’s brain when they inhale on a cigarette.

Speaking before the conference, Dr Wall explains; “The behavioural and sensory aspects of smoking are important factors in maintaining the addiction to cigarettes but their brain correlates have never been studied directly in humans.

“For obvious reasons, the practical and safety issues involved with using combustible materials in the confined MRI environment have effectively prevented serious neuroscientific work using modern methods.

“However, electronic cigarettes bypass many of these practical problems and safety issues and also provide a very good simulation of ‘traditional’ smoking. We have shown that using e-cigarettes with fMRI is an excellent model for direct evaluation of the effects of smoking on human neurophysiology.”

These initial findings (which pave the way for larger, more in-depth controlled research programmes) come in the midst of a current “war of words” between the e-cigarette industry and anti-tobacco campaigners. With a lack of robust, scientific evidence, both sides of the debate are finding it hard to support their arguments about the role and positioning of vaping products – as either a potentially valuable smoking cessation tool or a new ‘fad’ that normalises smoking and may encourage young, non-smokers to take up the habit.

Due to the current intensity of the vaping debate, media interest in the news story was high and the results of the pilot study were picked up by Reuters, with coverage achieved in a range of trade and consumer publications such as Medical News Today, Bioportfolio, Business Insider, The Huffington Post and Daily Mail. The results also generated some really interesting conversations with science and tech correspondents who are monitoring all developments around e-cigarettes and vaping and were excited by the prospect of “real research” into the effects.



Imanova Director, Roughan Sheedy, concludes; “We are confident that this study will not only illustrate a breakthrough in scanning capabilities in the field of e-cigarettes but will also highlights the benefits of Imanova’s service offering to a wider, consumer healthcare market seeking to demonstrate product differentiation with scientific evidence in their respective markets.”


For more information about the imaging capabilities of Imanova, please visit;

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