A nicotine vaccine shows promise in ending nicotine addiction helping smokers kick the habit, researchers say.

The vaccine allows the immune system to provide potent antibodies to remove nicotine from the body before it reaches the brain, says lead researcher Kim D. Janda, a professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

The vaccine could act as a crutch for people trying to stop smoking by preventing nicotine from reaching the brain, Janda says.

Janda's team had already developed a successful cocaine vaccine, but when they first developed a nicotine vaccine, the researchers found it wasn't very effective.

Janda says the researchers didn't understand why the early nicotine vaccine was ineffective, since the nicotine and cocaine molecules are similar. When they went back and looked more closely, they found that the cocaine molecule was restricted in its movement but the nicotine molecule wasn't.


The next step in the development of this new vaccine is to do more studies; it has only been tested in mice and rats. Once the researchers have more evidence that the vaccine is safe, it will be ready for clinical human trials.

The vaccine is designed to help smokers during the critical first 90 days of smoking cessation, when many relapse.

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