Scientists tackle vaccine for nicotine addiction

An in-development vaccine that weans addicts from their substance of choice has shown the most promise against cocaine addiction so far, but its developers are testing it against other substances now. The researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston are doing animal studies on versions for methamphetamine and heroin addiction. Next in line: A shot against nicotine addiction, says Thomas Kosten, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience who's been working on the addiction cure since 1995.

The vaccine works by tricking the body's immune system into developing antibodies to the drug. As the antibodies build up, less and less of the drug gets to the brain--so the addict feels less of an effect from it. Intended to treat current drug users, the shots could eventually be administered to others, such as high-risk adolescents, to keep them from becoming addicted. But that sort of use would raise ethical and legal questions, Kosten says.

- see the report from AFP