Heavy smokers or former smokers would know how difficult it is to stop smoking. Research shows that 70-80 percent of new people successfully stop smoking within six months. However, researchers have discovered a new vaccine that could treat nicotine addiction.
“Nicotine is very addictive. Many of the campaign trying to attack the source of quitting smoking, the cigarette itself. We want to find a way to block the nerves that provide sensation to nicotine in the brain and causes the addiction to cigarettes,” said researcher Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City as reported by CBS News, Thursday (06/28/2012).
In the journal Science Translational Medicine, Crystal explains that just as other vaccines, the vaccine cigarettes makes antibodies to fight infection. Vaccines create antibodies against nicotine.
Smoking is a vaccine development effort has been some time ago but always failed. That’s because the antibodies produced are always lost in a matter of weeks so it does not effectively reduce smoking.
Crystal team developed the vaccine contains a virus consisting of genetically engineered antibody sequences of nicotine. The vaccine is then injected into the liver of mice. Vaccines are genetically modified to produce antibodies nicotine liver along with other cells. The body then produces a ‘factory’ makers of nicotine antibodies in the body.
“Laboratory test results showed the effect will not diminish over time as other antibodies. These antibodies work by targeting the cells of nicotine in seconds and prevent it from reaching receptors in the brain that gives the sensation of calm” Crystal said.
When given nicotine, mice will decrease blood pressure and heart activity as a sign that nicotine has reached the brain. But the rats were tested with the new vaccine does not seem to change anything.
Having successfully tested in mice, researchers want to test in primates before tested on humans. Crystal said that the vaccine is safe and expected to be used for preventive measures for people who have never smoked.
“Just like an old man who decides to give her daughter the HPV vaccine, it could then decide to use a nicotine vaccine. We would weigh the benefits compared to risks resulting from, and it will take several more years of research,” says Crystal.