A smoking robot in Sudbury is the only one in the world to test how cigarettes effect the lungs. Health Sciences North’s Dr. Leslie Sutherland is working with a smoking robot, to see when cells mutate from healthy into cancerous. She says they are hoping to identify the very earliest changes that occur in lung cells as a direct result of exposure to tobacco smoke, and how those changes lead to cancer.

Dr. Sutherland is also testing what happens to pot smokers. She is doing a research on the long-term effects of cannabis smoke, to see if it leads to cancer. She is also testing changes that occur in other cells that aren’t in the lungs, like brain cells, to get a better understanding of potential medical benefits.

Not only is she looking at how tobacco and pot smoke effect patients, but she is taking it one step further and testing something never done before. She is studying the combination of tobacco and pot smoke together, and how that effects lung cells. The point of that is to see how cigarettes possibly influence the effect of cannabis smoke on the cells.

Dr. Sutherland’s work right now is tested on lung cells grown in a lab. Eventually she wants to compare those results to a study she is currently doing in patients at HSN, to see if lab-grown cells apply to actual patient samples.