Possible vaccine in the pipeline to stop cigarette addiction

Scientists who have been experimenting on mice, have recently shown that they could have created a potential vaccine which would mean people would not be able to get addicted to cigarettes.

The vaccine works in mice by using gene therapy to create a special antibody which destroys nicotine that is entering the body before it is actually capable of reaching the brain and affecting the body’s addiction centres. This gene therapy could be turned into a vaccine which would mean people were unable to get addicted to nicotine. Obviously, these trials are in their early stages and there is a long way to go before the potential treatment could be used in people.

The report has been published in the Science Translational Medicine journal and it is being conducted by researchers working in New York City, out of the Weill Cornell Medical College. In mice the vaccine was incredibly effective and showed just one dose of the vaccine permanently removed the ability for a mouse to get addicted to nicotine.

In the paper the researchers write about the problem of nicotine in reducing people’s addiction to smoking. The current nicotine replacement therapies for helping people stop smoking are not perfect and for this reason many people still pursue the harmful habit.

This type of gene therapy works by adjusting the liver to create a type of antibody which is constantly working to destroy any nicotine immediately after it enters the bloodstream. This effectively means that the nicotine that enters the bloodstream never actually makes it to the brain.

The scientists gave a group of mice the vaccine, and another group no vaccine. After exposing them to nicotine, the vaccinated mice showed no change in their physical behaviour, while the mice who were not given the vaccine showed symptoms of nicotine exposure.

These typically included the blood pressure of the mice decreasing, and heart rate lowering. This shows that the body is entirely not affected by nicotine, so there is no chance of someone developing an addiction to the substance because their brain is essentially never exposed to it.