All those chain-smokers addicted to the ‘cancer’ stick and wanting desperately to give it up, can now look forward to much needed succor in the near future.
Scientists have come up with a gene vaccine that makes antibodies against nicotine, which hopefully will help smokers to kick off the dangerous habit forever.
A single jab of this ‘DNA vaccine’ is all it takes to give life-time protection against nicotine cravings. The significance of this jab is that it could also be used later to vaccinate children to prevent them from ever getting addicted or hooked to smoking.
As is done generally, this ‘genetic vaccine’ has been tested so far only on mice. Testing on human beings would start within two years. The vaccine contains genes that are ‘programmed’ to manufacture antibodies.
These antibiotics neutralize the nicotine in the cigar before it reaches the brain. Once the nicotine is thus deactivated, it cannot give the pleasurable feelings to the smoker that basically underlie this addiction.
The idea behind the therapy is that once the smokers can't get any gratification or satisfaction from cigarettes, they will have no incentive left to smoke. This will make it easier for them to quit smoking.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York are working hard on developing this ‘genetic vaccine.’ The gene vaccine deceives the liver into keep on making antibodies, so that there are enough antibodies in the blood to fight nicotine.
Science Translational Medicine journal reports that when vaccinated mice were given nicotine, there was no adverse impact on their behavior, blood pressure or heart rate. The reason they found was that the gene antibodies jab reduced the amount of nicotine reaching the mice brain by 85%.
Many smokers addicted to nicotine who try to quit smoking, manage to stay off for max six months and then light up again. Now for such smokers, lead researcher Dr Ronald Crystal informs: ‘This novel vaccine may offer a much-needed solution.’
However, research on this is still at an infancy stage. There is still huge amount of studies required to be done to perfect it, which means the gene vaccine will take around five years to come into public domain.
Dr. Crystal stated that once the jab proves to be safe and effective, it could later even be included in school vaccination programmes to stop kids from ever starting to smoke. This will effectively destroy the habit at the grassroot level itself.
However, Darren Griffin, professor of genetics at Kent University, while lauding the find, added a note of warning too. Griffin said the study had ‘great potential’, but cautioned that what worked in mice did not necessarily work in human beings too.
There were dissenting voices to this vaccine as well. A retired toxicologist Prof Anthony Dayan, queried: ‘Nicotine addiction via smoking is harmful, but is it ethical to produce a major and enduring change in someone’s body to prevent it when other, less major, types of treatment are feasible?’
Whatever be the pros and cons, statistically it has been found that roughly a fifth of Brits smoke, with many starting to smoke while still in their teens. Earlier research has indicated that current treatments, from counseling to pills have had little impact with up to 80% going back to smoking within a span of six months.
Check Video: Vaccine for nicotine addiction shows promise
Source: Daily Mail
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