Nicotine Vaccine Could Help Smokers Kick The Habit
A new vaccine may be able to help smokers kick the habit for good, according to a new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday. Researchers found that the new vaccine stopped nicotine from reaching the brain in mice, thus stopping the "high" that smokers get.
"If you give nicotine to a mouse, they chill out, like humans. They run around less and their blood pressure drops and heart rate drops," Ronald Crystal, study author and researcher with Weill Cornell Medical College, told LiveScience "With the vaccine, giving them nicotine is like giving them water; the vaccine stops nicotine from reaching the brain."
Like Us on Facebook
The vaccine uses gene therapy insert a gene into the mouse's liver. The gene creates an antibody that labels nicotine as an invader and attacks it before it can reach the brain. The vaccine successfully created the antibody in mice and once administered, the mice no longer showed any behavioral or psychological effects from the nicotine.
After 18 weeks, mice still had high levels of antibodies, giving researchers hope that the vaccine could be a long-term solution. The vaccine doesn't rid people of nicotine cravings, but simply blocks the effects.
""Let's say someone smokes one cigarette an hour: Could they overcome [the vaccine] by smoking one every five minutes?" Crystal said. "Maybe, but there's probably some limit on how often some people will smoke."
Researchers say the vaccine could one day help people stop smoking.
Smoking kills over 400,000 people a year, about 1,200 daily, and the earlier smokers start the more likely they are to die from smoking-related diseases. More than 80 percent of smokers start before age 18 and 99 percent start by age 26.
Smoking can cause a myriad of health problems including stroke, heart disease, chronic lung problems, and various cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking costs the United States $96 billion in medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity every year.
Researchers will continue to evaluate the safety of the drug before testing it in humans, but say it looks promising.
"As far as we know, it's safe to use in humans," Crystal said.
© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.