Many of us are familiar with the gums and patches that gradually wean smokers off cigarettes. Now there is a drug currently be tested that actually keeps the stimulant nicotine from getting to the brain.
Over the years people have tried an endless array of ways to quit smoking: from cold turkey, to counseling and even hypnosis. At the present time, a small company called Nabi Bio-pharmaceuticals of Rockville, Md., is anticipating to make a killing from their new vaccine that they hope will help millions to kick the habit. They are currently in the final stages of testing this innovative vaccine. Last week, major progress happened as they made a deal with the well known pharmaceutical Glaxo-SmithKline.
With this agreement, Glaxo-SmithKline will pay for the developing and marketing cost incurred with this new vaccine, called NicVax, if Nabi can successfully finish the Phase 3 trials that are now in progress.
In the past, the usual treatment for stopping a smoker’s dependence on nicotine has been by using gum or patches that contain decreasing amounts of the substance so that the addict is gradually weaned from their addiction to smoking.
After working on this vaccine for ten years, Nabi reveals a more direct approach to the smoking addiction problem. It actually closes off the nicotine’s access to the brain. While on NicVax, if a smoker lights up a cigarette, they will not feel any of the stimulating effects that they crave from nicotine. This works because NicVax causes the immune system to create antibodies that bond with the nicotine molecule if it gets into the bloodstream. The outcome is a molecule that is too big to pass to the brain. To put it briefly, the vaccine helps the body to become immune to nicotine.
The reasoning is that if smokers are not able to get the usual buzz from smoking a cigarette, there will be no incentive for them to stay with the habit. Also, because the antibodies that NicVax creates stay in the body for a long time, the chances for a smoker to go back to their bad habit are small. “It breaks the cycle of addiction” says Raafat Fahim, who is the president and chief executive of Nabi.
The early and middle rounds of testing have been completed and the company expects to have the final results in the year 2011.