Scientists are working on a vaccine that would eliminate addiction by preventing nicotine from entering the brain. The vaccine lasts for about a month, so smokers will be likely to be vaccinated every month during half a year to make sure they kick the habit for good.
NicVAX vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies to tiny nicotine molecules, a highly addictive component of tobacco. These antibodies attach to nicotine, making its molecules too bulky to enter the brain through blood vessels.
Clinical trials using the vaccine and placebo, carried out by nine different institutions including the University of California, showed it helped the half of smokers to quit smoking during trials. During the second phase of trials, participants were vaccinated six times and now 80 per cent gave up.
The vaccine can help millions of smokers to quit the habit for good. There are lots of products designed to help smokers to quit such as the gum, patches and nasal sprays. Nevertheless, many of smokers relapse. All these products are in fact alternative ways of delivering nicotine to the body. They contain enough nicotine to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and allow the body to adapt to abstaining from cigarettes. The amount of nicotine is gradually diminished until smokers totally stop taking it. NicVAX is a radically new way because it prevents nicotine from entering the brain. If proved to be successful, the vaccine will save millions of lives.
Anti-smoking vaccine is expected to hit the market next year.
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