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Smoking Vaccine

June 29, 2010

Researchers are testing a vaccine that could block the pleasurable effects of smoking.


A nicotine vaccine? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s hard to stop smoking, and only about 10% of those who try on their own have long-term success. But researchers are testing a smoking vaccine that they hope will improve the odds. Michigan State psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Henry says the injectable mobilizes the immune system to block the pleasurable effects of nicotine.

DR. JONATHAN HENRY (Michigan State University):
We can immunize ourselves against the effects of nicotine, much like you would immunize yourself against the effects of the flu virus. These antibodies that our body produces would complex with the protein in nicotine so it cannot get into the brain, and that’s what we think interrupts the nicotine addiction cycle in the brain.

He says the vaccine is entering its final stage of testing. If it’s shown to help smokers quit permanently, it could be available for widespread use in several years. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.