Home > Treating Addictions > Vaccine for Nicotine Addiction

Vaccine for Nicotine Addiction

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 8 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Vaccine Addiction Nicotine Habit Quit

Nicotine addiction is one of the most common addictions. For those who have repeatedly tried to quit smoking, the range of treatment options available today just isn’t enough for them to give up the habit.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ treatment for addiction. While there are effective treatments available today, they will not work for everyone. For this reason, research into new options is critical to help people quit smoking.

Using NicVAX to Quit Smoking

One such treatment is NicVax, which is an experimental vaccine that is thought to help treat those who are addicted to nicotine. Its mechanism is one that halts nicotine in its path, so that it does not reach the brain.

While still not available as it is undergoing trials and approval, its progress is being closely followed by many people who want to quit smoking. There is also another nicotine vaccine undergoing development as well.

Preventing Smoking Relapse

The vaccine not only works to help a person stop smoking, but it also helps to prevent a person from relapsing. One drug company has recently signed a deal to license the vaccine throughout the world and also develop the second-generation vaccine using the original research.

Bringing the Vaccine to Consumers

There is still, however, much to be done before it can be available for consumers who want to quit smoking. There are still clinical trials in progress and these must be successfully completed before the vaccine can receive marketing authorisation.

Assessing Adverse Effects

There are a number of clinical trial phases that must still be completed. Clinical trials are important to test the effects of the drug and ensure the dosing and side-effects are listed. It looks at how effective the drug is for the treatment and how a person might react to it as well in terms of adverse effects.

How Does it Work?

The vaccine is injectable and thought to help people to quit. It is also thought to prevent them from taking up the habit again, particularly in the earlier days after they quit.

Stimulating the Immune System to Quit

It stimulates your immune system to form antibodies that will join with the nicotine molecules. Once it does that, the nicotine molecules are too large to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier. This means that they can’t get to the nicotine receptors and thus trigger the brain’s pleasure centre that gives smokers the ‘buzz’ they crave so much.

Preventing Relapse

Even for those who quit smoking, another problem is relapse. Some available data suggests that as many as ninety percent of those who quit smoking will relapse in the initial year after they quit smoking. The nicotine antibodies stay in the system for a long time, which should theoretically help prevent relapse.

Quitting Smoking

There are many options available to help people addicted to nicotine. These include prescription drugs, nicotine patches and a number of other tools for smoking cessation. Hopefully, the new vaccine proves to be effective in its remaining clinical trials, so that smokers have another potential option to help them quit smoking for life.

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