Friday, February 22, 2013

Nicotine Vaccine Study Describes Promising Results

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine published promising results of their study of a nicotine vaccine today in AJP in Advance. Irina Esterlis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and of diagnostic radiology at Yale, and colleagues immunized 11 patients with a vaccine against nicotine, considered the most addictive constituent of cigarettes. The vaccine causes the production of antibodies specific to the nicotine molecule. The nicotine-antibody complexes are too large to cross the blood-brain barrier, reducing the amount and rate of nicotine in the brain and, consequently, the reinforcing and addictive effects of nicotine. The researchers found that immunization was associated with significant reductions in cigarette use and craving in the smokers.

The nicotine vaccine is owned by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, Md. In 2011, the company reported disappointing results from a phase 3 clinical trial, which found the vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo. Esterlis and colleagues present several potential explanations for the discrepancy in outcomes, including the possibility that the levels of antibody titers may have been suboptimal in the majority of the smokers in the clinical trial.

A similar approach has been used to create a vaccine against cocaine. Read more in Psychiatric News here.

(Image: Dirk Ercken/


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