Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain

May 2, 2012 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.

Explore further: A vaccine for nicotine?

More information: selectabio.com
via: Technology Review

Related Stories

A vaccine for nicotine?

October 4, 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?

Moderate levels of secondhand smoke deliver nicotine to the brain

May 2, 2011
Exposure to secondhand smoke, such as a person can get by riding in an enclosed car while someone else smokes, has a direct, measurable impact on the brain—and the effect is similar to what happens in the brain of the ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

August 15, 2017
While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Report reveals underground US haven for heroin, drug users

August 8, 2017
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals.

Regular energy drink use linked to later drug use among young adults

August 8, 2017
Could young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks be at risk for future substance use? A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol ...

Gamblers more likely to have suffered childhood traumas, research shows

August 2, 2017
Men with problem and pathological gambling addictions are more likely to have suffered childhood traumas including physical abuse or witnessing violence in the home, according to new research.

Incorporating 12-step program elements improves youth substance-use disorder treatment

July 26, 2017
A treatment program for adolescents with substance-use disorder that incorporates the practices and philosophy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced even better results than the current state-of-the ...

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

9 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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.