Pharmaceutical International News - June 2012
Nicotine Vaccine Could Fight Smoking Addiction
Posted by Paul Fiddian - Pharmaceutical International's Lead Reporter on 28/06/2012 - 06:45:00
A vaccine could in the future provide nicotine immunisation, making smoking a less appealing habit, according to US-based researchers.
They've just developed and now tested a vaccine that streams an antibody designed to target nicotine in the body. The nicotine vaccine tests involved mice who, after being given the drug, exhibited nicotine levels just 15 per cent of what they'd been previously.
It's envisaged that human-based trials of this vaccine remain many years away but, according to the head researcher involved, the potential's already been shown. "As far as we can see, the best way to treat chronic nicotine addiction from smoking is to have these Pacman-like antibodies on patrol, clearing the blood as needed before nicotine can have any biological effect", explained Professor Ronald Crystal from Weill Cornell Medical College.
Specifically, this nicotine vaccine encourages the liver to manufacture antibodies again and again, so they're constantly present in the body. When nicotine enters the bloodstream, it's soaked up by these antibodies, so can't ever get as far as the heart or the brain. This isn't the first nicotine vaccine to be released but previous designs didn't encourage internal antibody production - rather, they just injected antibodies.
Around one-in-five US residents still smoke, in the face of warning labels, tax rises and anti-smoking advertising campaigns. "It's an addiction-it's very hard to stop and enormously costly to society", Crystal added in comments quoted by Fox News. "We need new strategies to help people get past this addiction, and this is a promising, novel approach."
The mouse-based anti-smoking vaccine trials didn't appear to reveal any related side effects so, from here onwards, more animal tests will be carried out. Then, after a great deal of further research, human trials can be considered. For one thing, though, it's not yet known whether the antibody production process kickstarted by the vaccine could even be replicated in humans. Furthermore, if it could, would it produce a strong enough effect to reduce or drive out feelings of addiction?
"We are very hopeful that this kind of vaccine strategy can finally help the millions of smokers who have tried to stop, exhausting all the methods on the market today, but find their nicotine addiction to be strong enough to overcome these current approaches", Crystal concluded.
Image copyright Darko Skender - Courtesy sxc.hu
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