30 April 2008

Niccine is another vaccine against smoking

The next vaccine against smoking addiction will be tested on 400 volunteers in three Nordic countries. The experimental drug was developed by a group of scientists from the Karolinska Institutet, headed by Professor Torgny Svensson.

The novelty, which Swedish scientists have been working on for the last 10 years, is called Niccine. The principle of its operation is as follows: the vaccine "trains" the human immune system to respond to nicotine (usually it "does not notice it at point blank range"). In the future, when nicotine enters the bloodstream, the body produces antibodies that block nicotine so that it cannot reach the area of the brain that is responsible for the "reward" from smoking. That is, a vaccinated smoker ceases to feel any effect from cigarettes and eventually quits smoking. In theory.

And how it will work in practice, and it remains to be found out during the test. It will be conducted by Independent Pharmaceuticals, a company founded by Svensson to produce the vaccine, test it and market it.

The head of the company Lena Vikingsson (Lena Degling Wikingsson) tells Svenska Dagbladet that the subjects are heavy smokers who would like to quit.

For four months they will receive injections of the vaccine (once a month), and then the experimenters intend to monitor their wards for a year. It is important that half of the subjects will receive a vaccine, and half (for control) a placebo. Of course, the smokers themselves will not know which drug they are being injected with.

The subjects will have to report on whether they returned to smoking or not, and if they returned, when.

I must say that Niccine is not the first vaccine against smoking. However, something has not been heard about the mass distribution of its experimental predecessors, tested a few years ago. Maybe the fact is that the craving for smoking is largely determined by genes?

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