Researchers develop novel anti-body vaccine that blocks addictive nicotine chemicals from reaching the brain

In the journal Science Translational Medicine, the scientists describe how a single dose of their novel protects mice, over their lifetime, against . The vaccine is designed to use the animal's liver as a factory to continuously produce antibodies that gobble up the moment it enters the , preventing the chemical from reaching the brain and even the heart.

"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 ," says the study's lead investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Our vaccine allows the body to make its own against nicotine, and in that way, develop a workable immunity," Dr. Crystal says.

Previously tested nicotine vaccines have failed in clinical trials because they all directly deliver nicotine antibodies, which only last a few weeks and require repeated, expensive injections, Dr. Crystal says. Plus, this kind of impractical, passive vaccine has had inconsistent results, perhaps because the dose needed may be different for each person, especially if they start smoking again, he adds.

"While we have only tested mice to date, 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," he says. Studies show that between 70 and 80 percent of smokers who try to quit light up again within six months, Dr. Crystal adds.

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