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Scientists invent smoking vaccination

Weill Cornell Medical College in New York has revealed there could soon be a vaccination to prevent people from smoking. The jab has so far been tested...

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|Jun 28|magazine7 min read

Weill Cornell Medical College in New York has revealed there could soon be a vaccination to prevent people from smoking.

The jab has so far been tested on mice, and is still yet to go through the rat and larger animal stage before it can be tested on humans, but all the initial signs suggest that the vaccination could have a pivotal role to play in the contentious addiction’s future stronghold.

The vaccine aims to provide lifelong protection from the cravings of smoking, while also replacing the pleasurable effects that nicotine has on the body to begin with. This includes a sense of relaxation and a slowing of the heart rate.

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The jab will not only be available to people wanting to quit the habit upon its release, but will also be available to parents to give their children, just as is the case with similar MMR and HPV vaccines.

Dr Ronald Crystal, Professor of Genetic Medicine at the college in New York, has commented on the jab’s potential:

"They will know if they start smoking again, they will receive no pleasure from it due to the nicotine vaccine, and that can help them kick the habit.

"Smoking affects a huge number of people worldwide, and there are many people who would like to quit, but need effective help. This novel vaccine may offer a much-needed solution."

The vaccine works by filtering out the nicotine once it enters the blood by producing an antibody. That antibody continues to re-manifest itself too, creating a permanent immunity to the effects of nicotine. It is this aspect of the jab which lends itself to the possible jab opened up to children, to prevent the urge of ever wanting to start smoking in the first place.

Dr Crystal explained: "As far as we can see, the best way to treat chronic nicotine addiction from smoking is to have these Pacman-like antibodies on patrol, clearing the blood as needed before nicotine can have any biological effect.

"Our vaccine allows the body to make its own monoclonal antibodies against nicotine, and in that way, develop a workable immunity.

"Just as parents decide to give their children an HPV vaccine, they might decide to use a nicotine vaccine.

"But that is only theoretically an option at this point. We would of course have to weight benefit versus risk, and it would take years of studies to establish such a threshold."