Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have developed and successfully tested in mice an innovative vaccine that blocks addictive nicotine chemicals from reaching the brain.
The scientists described how a single dose of their novel vaccine protects mice, over their lifetime, against nicotine addiction.
The vaccine is designed to use the animal’s liver as a factory to continuously produce antibodies that gobble up nicotine the moment it enters the bloodstream, 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 biological effect,” said the study’s lead investigator, Dr Ronald G Crystal, chairman and professor of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
“Our vaccine allows the body to make its own monoclonal antibodies against nicotine, and in that way, develop a workable immunity,” Crystal stated.
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, Crystal explained.