Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain

by Lisa Zyga weblog
Cigarette
A vaccine using synthetic nanoparticles could be the world's first successful nicotine vaccine. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit? It's the idea behind a nicotine vaccine being created by MIT and Harvard researchers, in which an injection of synthetic nanoparticles prompts the immune system to create antibodies. The antibodies bind to incoming nicotine molecules so that they're too large to cross the blood-brain barrier. If the brain doesn't know you're smoking, you don't experience the normal smoking kick.

The Boston-based start-up company Selecta Biosciences has tested the SEL-068 vaccine in the lab and is beginning safety tests in humans, making SEL-068 the first synthetic nanoparticle vaccine to be tested in human clinical trials. If successful, the vaccine would be the first synthetically engineered nanoparticle vaccine, distinct from conventionally manufactured biological vaccines.

Although nicotine is not a virus, the nanoparticles target the chemical as if it were by initiating an . Selecta is using the same strategy to design other synthetic vaccines for non-virus ailments including malaria, cancer, diabetes, and transplant rejection. Once a person receives the , the effects should last for several years.

While other smoking aids such as the patch and gum interfere with nicotine cravings by delivering small amounts of nicotine, the vaccine does not try to reduce cravings. Instead, it makes smokers unable to alleviate their cravings by smoking. However, the company notes that smoking several cigarettes in a row could overwhelm the immune system so that a few molecules could reach the brain and deliver a mild effect.

People spend more than $2 billion per year on smoking aids and drugs, although these strategies are ineffective for many people and can have severe side effects.

Selecta expects to have results from its early trials in humans this summer, and if the are well-tolerated in humans, will continue with further testing.

More information: selectabio.com
via: Technology Review

Related Stories

A vaccine for nicotine?

Oct 04, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- When Peter Burkhard first heard the idea of a nicotine vaccine eight years ago, he thought it was funny – how could a vaccine affect something that’s not technically a disease?

Nicotine vaccine under development

Jun 26, 2006

U.S. scientists say new medications might soon be available to help people stop smoking by attacking nicotine addition in the brain.

Recommended for you

Meth mouth menace

2 hours ago

Something was up in Idaho. While visiting a friend in Athol, a small town north of Coeur d'Alene, Jennifer Towers, director of research affairs at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, noticed ...

More teens abstaining from alcohol

Apr 10, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A broad change in drinking behaviour has occurred among Australian adolescents in the last decade. The percentage of Australians aged 14-17 who do not drink alcohol has increased from ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dogbert
not rated yet May 02, 2012
Somehow, redirecting the immune system to control nicotene craving seem a poor idea.

I suuspect that most smokers will continue to smoke until the immune system is overwhelmed thus greatly increasing their exposure to nicotene.

Is overestimation/sepsis a possibility?
Shootist
not rated yet May 02, 2012
Antabuse doesn't stop alcoholics from drinking.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 02, 2012
If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit?
Nicotine only delivers relief from the pain of withdrawal. People cannot tell the difference between pleasure and relief from pain. Epicurus said this.

Whatever minor net 'plus' addicts get from the drug is drowned out by the temporary elimination of the massive 'minus' of withdrawal.

But this is good. It will cause smokers to breathe yet more and more of the dirt until they are completely stopped up. Problem solved.
Joez_Johnsmith
not rated yet May 03, 2012
People cannot tell the difference between pleasure and relief from pain. Epicurus said this.


The pathways of pain and pleasure are completely different, respectively c, fibers involved with nociception and dopamine pathways (the latter excluding recent findings on gustatory pleasure pathways); therefore, it is reasonable that beyond the moment of pain or pleasure a human-being will be able to differentiate between a change in either (pain or pleasure), especially considering these pathways can lead to drastically different reactions. Mainly these stereotypical, hypothetical examples of reactions with respective to reduced pain and pleasure are: continue to contract arm and withhold arm from such close distance from flame (decrease interaction) and take another hit (increase interaction). At some point in time the intelligent, well conscious, human will differentiate. I believe the same confounding argument holds for the inverse of the original quote.
Joez_Johnsmith
not rated yet May 03, 2012
People cannot tell the difference between pleasure and relief from pain. Epicurus said this.


The pathways of pain and pleasure are completely different, respectively c,delta fibers involved with nociception and dopamine pathways (the latter excluding recent findings on gustatory pleasure pathways); therefore, it is reasonable that beyond the moment of pain or pleasure a human-being will be able to differentiate between a change in either (pain or pleasure), especially considering these pathways can lead to drastically different reactions. Mainly these stereotypical, hypothetical examples of reactions with respective to reduced pain and pleasure are: continue to contract arm and withhold arm from such close distance from flame (decrease interaction) and take another hit (increase interaction). At some point in time the intelligent, well conscious, human will differentiate. I believe the same confounding argument holds for the inverse of the original quote.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 03, 2012
therefore, it is reasonable that beyond the moment of pain or pleasure a human-being will be able to differentiate between a change in either
Ask any smoker if smoking gets them high. It does not. If it did there would be warning labels; 'do not operate heavy machinery', 'do not combine with other drugs', etc. Smokers smoke to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal, and this is the only reason they smoke.

I think the idea that there is some pleasure-creating aspect to smoking is a myth perpetrated by the tobacco industry, to make it more like the recreational drugs we are so fond of. Smokers begin to recognize the withdrawal state - nervousness, anxiety, fatigue, distraction, etc - as 'normal', when in fact the way they feel after their last cigarette is the way they would feel all the time if they didnt smoke.

Tobacco only makes the addict feel normal and nothing more. This makes it a very unique, very effective, and very dangerous agent of disease and money maker.
Eikka
not rated yet May 06, 2012
Ask any smoker if smoking gets them high. It does not.


In my experience it did get me high. So much so that I was wary of driving right after smoking because I felt uncoordinated. My first experiences with tobacco were that it made me feel like floating in air with all my limbs numb.

Eventually it stopped doing that though, so I lost interest in smoking and quit. I just started to feel nauseous without any of the effects.

Eventide
not rated yet May 06, 2012
I wouldn't be surprised if this is eventually indicated for every teen with addictive traits in the family who potentially will start smoking. Maybe it will significantly reduce the number of smokers in the next generation if done right.
technodiss
not rated yet May 07, 2012
this could keep people from starting more than it would get people to quit. or if you already quit this may keep you from starting up again.