Vaccine delays nicotine effects in mice brains – could it help humans kick the habit?
The health benefits of quitting smokingare undeniably huge, but actually doing so can be extremely difficult. A newresearch project is hoping to make things a little easier, withscientists developing a vaccine to help people in the effort. It'slooking fairly promising, with the treatment proving effective intests on laboratory mice.
We've been trying to come up with toolsto help smokers kick the habit for years, but so far, nothing hasreally hit the mark. Nicotine gum and patches can be effective, butdon't work well all the time, and drugs have been developed thattarget nicotine receptors, but they've been found to cause severeside effects, including depression and mood swings.
Recently, scientists have been tryingto come up with a vaccine that actually targets the nicotine moleculeitself, but two recent clinical trials have failed to producesignificant positive results. They did however give researchers ahint that they were on the right track, showing that the people mostlikely to stop smoking for a period of six months or more, were thosewho produced the most anti-nicotine antibodies.
In light of the results, scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego worked to create a new vaccine design, with increasednumbers of antibodies that specifically target nicotine molecules.The vaccine was tested on laboratory mice, where it began to delay theeffects of nicotine within just ten minutes of injection, while lowering the concentration of nicotine in the brain.
While the results of the new vaccineare positive, animal testing doesn't always accurately predict howthe substance will perform in trials with human patients. The researchers are now working to refinethe vaccine design, looking towards clinical trials in the future.
The findings of the research werepublished in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.