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The Race to a Nicotine Vaccine

posted 07:39 AM EST, Wed April 30, 2008
The Race to a Nicotine Vaccine © Photo: Eschipul

Like a modern gold rush, researchers race to develop the first and best vaccine to help smokers quit.

Nordic researchers are racing to develop a vaccine that would eliminate the absorption of nicotine into the brain, and by doing so, eliminate the pleasure of smoking and much of the reason to smoke. It's hoped that the development of a nicotine vaccine will greatly reduce the 5.4 million preventable deaths caused by smoking each year.

Independent Pharmaceutica, of Stockholm, has completed phase 2 tests of a vaccine that attacks nicotine in the bloodstream, never letting it enter into the brain. If the nicotine cannot enter into the brain, the smoker does not feel any "high" from smoking, and it becomes far easier to break the habit.

The Swedish vaccine is competing against several other contenders, but Independent Pharmaceutica Spokesperson, Lena Degling Wikingsson, said that their vaccine was hoped to produce fewer side effects than competing medications.

In a recent and competing Swiss nicotine vaccine study, 400 smokers who had quit and were trying not to relapse were given either a nicotine vaccine or a placebo. 42% of the people given the vaccine were able to stay smoke free – compared to only 21% in the control group.

A Bermuda based company, Celtic Pharma, will release test results from their vaccine later this month, and in America, Nabi Pharmaceuticals is said to have a similar vaccine under development.

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