Nicotine Vaccine Promising for Smoking Cessation

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An experimental nicotine vaccine reduces the amount of nicotine that reaches the brain and binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), helping to reduce cigarette use and cravings, new research shows. However, at least 1 expert has some misgivings about its potential as an effective treatment.

“It appears that the vaccine may help with smoking cessation, but likely as an adjunct to existing pharmacology or psychological treatments,” Irina Esterlis, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and diagnostic radiology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, told Medscape Medical News.

The nicotine vaccine is being developed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, Maryland, under the brand name NicVAX. It consists of a chemical derivative of nicotine linked to a protein to induce an immune response. The nicotine-antibody complexes are too large to cross the blood-brain barrier, reducing the amount and rate of nicotine that enters the brain and, consequently, the reinforcing and addictive effects of nicotine.

By Megan Brooks, Medscape

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