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Vaccine For Smoking

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Vaccine For Smoking

A vaccine for nicotine could be on the horizon…

Scientists say they have developed new a vaccine that could one day offer protection from addiction to nicotine. The vaccine, which blocks nicotine from reaching the brain, could be used to eradicate a smokers urge to light-up, forever.

So far the tests have only been conducted in lab mice, but researchers hope to successfully migrate the treatment to humans.

The vaccine works by utilizing a harmless virus, which tricks the body into developing a protein that blocks the biological effects of nicotine.

smoking vaccine 550x369 Vaccine For Smoking

Scientists Develop Nicotine Vaccine

Image Credit: Chin tin tin, 2007.

Researchers have used the same antibodies to try vaccinate people against nicotine before – by injecting them directly into the skin. However the technique worked for a few weeks before the antibodies disappeared.

The team furthing the research at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif, say it has found a way to keep the body making more.

To do this the researchers injected the mice with a harmless virus shell containing instructions for making the nicotine antibody. The viral shell is programmed to infect the liver where it instructs the organ to continue producing the antibody.

Lead researcher Ronald G. Crystal, MD, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, explained:

“It’s sort of like having Pac-Man floating around in the blood. [The antibodies] bind to the nicotine and prevent it from reaching its receptors in the brain,”

Using the method the researchers were able to show that antibodies prevented 83 percent of the nicotine from reaching the brain, and that the mice were still producing antibodies weeks later.

However experts do warn that a vaccine is not necessarily a failsafe option. There are already drugs that block the effects of nicotine, such as Chantix, but not everyone that uses them has success.

Addiction specialist Michael Fingerhood, MD, medical director of the comprehensive care practice at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., who was not involved in the study, suggested that other factors affect whether or not someone will quit smoking.

“I think smoking is perhaps the most complicated of addictions because there are other aspects to why people have trouble quitting smoking…

“Is it a good technique, absolutely, but I don’t think it’s going to be a panacea. It may be another way to help our patients.”

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


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  1. Brenda Goodman: Vaccine May Block the Effect of Nicotine. WebMD, 06/27/2012.

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