Vaccine being developed to help smokers quit

smoking, cigarette
( -- Glaxo-SmithKline has joined forces with Nabi Pharmaceuticals to produce a vaccine to help smokers give up their addiction permanently.

The , NicVAX, works by preventing nicotine from entering the brain, and hence stops the smoker deriving any of the pleasure sensations that are so addictive. The injection lasts around a month, and would probably need an injection every month for six months to ensure the addiction is broken permanently.

The vaccine stimulates the immune system to manufacture to the tiny nicotine molecule, the major addictive component of . The antibodies bind to nicotine, and the combination is too large to pass from the blood into the brain.

Trials of five injections of the vaccine or a placebo carried out by nine institutions, including the University of California, showed the product helped 50% of smokers to give up for the trial period. In a second trial volunteers were given six injections of vaccine, and in this study 80% of the volunteers receiving the vaccine attained satisfactory nicotine antibody levels.

President of the Glaxo-SmithKline Biologic Division, Jean Stephanie, said that if the vaccine is approved and marketed it could help millions of people to give up the habit permanently. Estimates suggest up to 70% of smokers attempt to give up each year, but only 5-15% succeed in lasting more than a year without reverting to .

There are many other products to help smokers give up smoking, such as gums, nasal sprays, and patches, but many smokers find it difficult not to return to the habit. These quit smoking aids provide nicotine by alternative methods to smoking a cigarette. Having a dose of nicotine reduces the withdrawal symptoms and allows the body to adjust to not smoking. Dosages are progressively reduced and then stopped altogether. Many people take up the habit again as the dosage is reduced or stopped. NicVAX works in a completely different way to the other products since it prevents the entering the brain.

A vaccine to help people stop smoking permanently could save millions of lives globally and cut the financial burden on health care systems caused by smoking related conditions. If late-stage tests are successful, NicVAX could be on the market in just over a year.

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Citation: Vaccine being developed to help smokers quit (2009, November 20) retrieved 22 January 2019 from
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Nov 20, 2009
Otto, I would give things of value to lock you and I in a room with a carton of Camels.

Nov 20, 2009
as a smoker with week willpower, I am overjoyed to hear this. side effects? recidivism? I'd like to hear more. Also can we make this for other drugs?

Nov 21, 2009
Any new development should be welcomed and I hope it will be freely available for those with this terrible addiction. It would save not only thousands of lives but also relieve the ongoing heartache of close relatives.

Nov 21, 2009
I think issues mentioned in previous comments could be helped by placing the smoker first at replacement regime and when that is nearing it's end, then use the vaccine for 6 to 12 months. That way any attempt to restart smoking does not give any pleasure, but then the withdrawal symptoms should not be that much anymore.

Nov 21, 2009
For struggle against smoking, it is necessary to forbid to start to smoke

Nov 21, 2009
Replying to the many comments about painful withdrawal symptoms:

I've dealt with the headaches, fatigue, irritability, the stomach ache and digestive problems etc etc etc associated with withdrawals a number of times. Any individual who has smoked and wanted to quit almost certainly has. And I'm willing to wager, any smoker who would invest themselves in getting a shot each month is quite well aware of the few days of discomfort they will have to deal with.

What the 6 months gives you is a way to 'survive' long enough to get the dopamine-levels/brain-chemistry back to normal again. Yes, you'll be just as depressed as if you'd quit cold turkey. But breaking down and smoking won't send you back to square one.

Nov 21, 2009
@Neodim: I almost agree. In fact I used to agree: When I was 17 I proposed (while smoking) that anybody who wanted to smoke should be required to send in for a lifetime prescription for the nicotine delivery system of their choice. You have one year to submit your request. After that, nobody else is allowed prescriptions.

Now I just think that it should be illegal to commercially (*commercially!*) produce nicotine / tobacco. Basically regulate tobacco like we do brewing of your own beer (homebrewing)- you can brew up to like 500gallons a year per person per household. You can give it to your friends. But you cannot sell it. Sure, kids will still be able to get ahold of it -- but finding a STEADY supply would be tedious and expensive. And it's actually more effective than outright bans, which just create a black market.

Nov 21, 2009
Hint to the "quit smoking" industry ... investigate the pharmacology of dextromethorphan in high quantities a little more closely; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I know of two cases where ~600mg of dextromethorphan eliminated cravings in the test subjects overnight. (I will leave the safety record for others to establish.)

Apparently those involved are not the only ones - more evidence of its efficacy can be found here:

Dec 28, 2009
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