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E-Cigarette Research | E-Cigs Inspire Medical Innovations

By Matt McConnell

Tuesday June 17, 2014
E-cigarettes are the wave of the future
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E-Cigarette research is taking all shapes and forms these days as e-cigs have been inspiring potential medical innovations. This should not come as a surprise to anyone given the history of medical innovation. Medical researchers have long drawn inspiration from a variety of imaginative and innovative thinkers.

Long before there were MRI machines and full body PET scans, we had Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy scanning patients with a miracle machine that told him exactly what was wrong with his patient.

Of course following his diagnosis, McCoy could concoct a cure, unless the diagnosis was made on a bit character that you didn’t see in last week’s show. If that were the case, the diagnosis was not so good. Anyway, the point is that Sci-Fi is one resource that has long served as the inspiration for innovation.

Now, we have a case where innovation is the inspiration for, umm, innovation. Let me make sense of that. The story begins with a medical school student, Noah Minskoff, who had lost his mother to lung cancer. When he first saw an e-cig, he could not help but wonder if such a device could have saved his mother’s life.

Minskoff teamed up with a mechanical engineer to examine the possibilities of utilizing e-cig technology to deliver medications. They began their own e-cig research by examining a few different models. Some of the models they tested raised concern about the conductive materials and the e-liquid storage. ECCR is concerned about those things as well, which is why we are adamant about advising consumers not to buy cheap e-cigs.

Minskoff and his engineering partner decided that they could build a better mouse trap. They founded Thermo Essence Technologies and began to work in earnest toward developing a technology that would utilize vaporizing technology to deliver medications.

The goal is to develop better inhalers. Current inhalers have several demonstrated inneficiencies. If you have ever used one, you are probably well aware of several of these issues. According to the US National Library of Medicine, inhalers seems so easy to use that a large number of doctors, nurses and patients are not adequately trained in how to use them properly.

e-cig research can help the American public save 7 billion dollars a year on wasted medicationsIt is calculated that between 28% and 68% of patients misuse medical inhalers, or powder inhalers, to such a degree that patients are unable to actually benefit from the medication.

Expert estimations also indicate that 39% to 67% of nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists themselves are unable to adequately describe or demonstrate proper use of inhalers.

As you can clearly see, there is a desperate need for medical innovations in the area of inhaler technology.

That need becomes even more pronounced when you consider the financial impacts. There is an estimated $25 billion dollars spent annually on inhalers in the United States. Between $5 billion and $7 billion of those dollars are completely wasted because the medication is essentially lost.

Minskoff leads one of several companies involved in e-cigarette research working toward advancing inhalable medical technology. E-cig vapors may offer a much more efficient alternative. In fact, vapors may be a viable alternative not only for traditional inhalable medications, but for other types of medications as well. The idea of delivering pain medication, for example, via vapors is intriguing even the most skeptical experts.

Dr. Ben Forbes, Kings College Pharmaceutics, said that the idea is, “very interesting”. He said that medications that are inhaled are absorbed more quickly than pills. This would be extremely advantageous for pain medications, as patients would gain access to relief much more quickly. E-liquid could be configured to contain analgesics as well as other medications.

It is calculated that between 28% and 68% of patients misuse medical inhalers to such a degree

that patients are unable to actually benefit from the medication.

One of the advantages is the fact that vaporized medication does not have to pass through the stomach or the liver meaning that no potency is lost. So not only is the medication delivered faster, it is also more efficient in terms of how much medication actually makes its way into the blood stream. Costs could be lowered and no longer would struggling patients be forced to contend with the prospect of having to swallow some giant, gross tasting pill. One company is already offering e-liquid infused with vitamins. There are endless possibilities here.

There has even been mention made of gaping potentially being made available to diabetics. Imagine not having to endure painful, daily injections. Thanks to a new generation of inspired researchers, we may be at the tip of the iceberg for the benefits of vaping.

Perhaps some day in the not to distant future, vaping will come to be viewed as a therapeutic. Currently, much of the medical research community has an unfavorable view of e-cigs. Many even engage in negative electronic cigarette propaganda. In spite of all of that, there is something refreshingly hopeful found in the irony that a community of skeptics could eventually be won over based on seeing the possibilities of an innovation that they had once aggressivley maligned.

Inspiration has always led to innovation and advancement. Whether innovation comes from a Sci Fi movie or from e-cigarette research, the bottom line is achieving that advancement. Hopefully, medical researchers and anti-tobacco advocates will soon realize that they have a powerful ally in e-cigs, not an enemy.

Matt
Team ECCR

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