A jab of genes which generate antibiotics against nicotine could help smokers to kick off the habit, believe researchers from Kent University. Just one jab could provide life-long protection against nicotine cravings could be used to vaccinate children to stop them starting the habit.
About fifth of individuals’ smoke, with majority of starting the habit while still in their adolescence. Earlier studies have shown that present treatments, from counselling to pills, usually have little benefit, with up to eighty percent of individual start smoking again within six months of the treatment.
The new jab contains genes which are programmed to make antibodies that deactivate nicotine before it reaches the brain, where it would usually stimulate the gratifying feelings that trigger addiction. The hypothesis is that if smokers no longer acquire such pleasurable feeling from cigarettes they will find it easier to quit.
The new jab developed by Weill Cornell Medical College in New York artifices the liver into constantly making antibiotics, making sure that these antibiotics are always present in the blood to fight nicotine. The new jab known as genetic vaccine has so far been tested only on mice.
When researchers gave nicotine to vaccinated mice, the antibiotics deactivate the amount that made its way to the brain by eighty-five percent, having no effect on blood pressure, heart rate and on their behaviour. Lead researcher Dr Ronald Crystal, explained this novel vaccine may offer a much-needed solution.
The research is still at an early stage and research involving people could begin in as little as two years. If it proved to be safe and effective, it could eventually be included in school vaccination programmes to stop youngsters from ever starting to smoke, added Dr Crystal. The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.