New injection to beat nicotine addiction

A new genetic vaccine may help smokers overcome the addiction to nicotine- and prevent teenagers from ever starting

A new injection that could help smokers quit for life is being developed by US scientists.

It is also hoped that the genetic vaccine will help prevent teenagers starting in the first place by introducing genes that force the liver into making antibodies against nicotine.

The genes injected trick the liver into continuously making the antibodies that neutralise the nicotine before it reaches the brain.

This will halt the pleasurable feelings usually generated by the drug, removing the basis of addiction.

Theoretically scientists believe that, by taking away the pleasure of cigarettes, the injection will make quitting much easier.

Dr Ronald Crystal, professor of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and research leader said the jab could help committed quitters beat physical nicotine cravings: ‘They will know if they start smoking again, they will receive no pleasure from it due to the nicotine vaccine, and that can help them kick the habit.

‘Smoking affects a huge number of people worldwide, and there are many people who would like to quit, but need effective help. This novel vaccine may offer a much-needed solution.’

Science Translational Medicine reports that the tests on mice show, when vaccinated, the amount of nicotine that reaches the brain is reduced by 85%, with no effect on heart rate, blood pressure or behaviour.

The development is still in early stages, having only been tested on mice so far, but if proved safe and successful could be introduced in the next five years.

Crystal added: ‘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.’

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