The current methods of helping tobacco smokers to quit have been largely ineffective. The success is limited because of the addictive properties of “nicotine,” the dangerous chemical that makes smokers hooked on cigarettes. As pretty much everyone knows, smoking is bad for us. Those who choose to smoke damage their bodies, and potentially place those around them in danger as well. For years, anti-smoking campaigns have been driving up awareness on the addictive nature of cigarettes, and driving down the number of addicted smokers in the United States.

Because of the risks involved, many people attempt to quit smoking. However, their efforts are often met with so much resistance from their bodies that they aren’t able to deal with it all the way through. The most heart-breaking experience for a smoker is the realization that they are trapped in a habit that is going to dramatically affect their health and their future. There are patches, gum, electronic cigarettes, and many other alternative ways to bring in the nicotine they need to be comfortable.

None of those alternatives are going to be able to match up to the latest development in science.

Scientists hypothesized that a single administration of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene transfer vector expressing high levels of an anti-nicotine antibody would persistently prevent nicotine from reaching its receptors in the brain.

It’s an idea that, if proven to work, could allow smokers to quit with just a single injection shot. They would be free of their nicotine cravings quickly,and thus, wouldn’t need to step outside and suck on another “cancer-stick.”

To test their hypothesis, the team constructed a series of tests on some mice. (via American Association for the Advancement of Science)

To test this hypothesis, we constructed an AAVrh.10 vector that expressed a full-length, high-affinity, anti-nicotine antibody derived from the Fab fragment of the anti-nicotine monoclonal antibody NIC9D9 (AAVantiNic). In mice treated with this vector, blood concentrations of the anti-nicotine antibody were dose-dependent, and the antibody showed high specificity and affinity for nicotine. The antibody shielded the brain from systemically administered nicotine, reducing brain nicotine concentrations to 15% of those in naïve mice. The amount of nicotine sequestered in the serum of vector-treated mice was more than seven times greater than that in untreated mice, with 83% of serum nicotine bound to immunoglobulin G. Treatment with the AAVantiNic vector blocked nicotine-mediated alterations in arterial blood pressure, heart rate, and locomotor activity. In summary, a single administration of a gene transfer vector expressing a high-affinity anti-nicotine monoclonal antibody elicited persistent (18 weeks), high titers of an anti-nicotine antibody that obviated the physiologic effects of nicotine. If this degree of efficacy translates to humans, AAVantiNic could be an effective preventative therapy for nicotine addiction.

In a slightly less scientific explanation, their new drug has shown significant ability to block the addictive chemicals from the brain. If the brain doesn’t receive the signals necessary to create the craving for cigarettes, smokers wouldn’t feel the urge to smoke, and would be able to quit amazingly fast if they choose. Not only that, but this particular test suggests that one shot would effectively cure a person’s craving for nicotine for up to 18 weeks. Now that’s an easy way to quit.

Of course, the findings weren’t found from human trials, and they are probably a bit of time away from that anyways. It does show that science is uncovering incredible progress in fixing this particular problem. With any luck, cigarette companies will be hit huge in the future, and smoking will be greatly reduced around the world, leading to much better health world-wide.

Are you a smoker? Have you ever tried to quit? Do you think that such findings have the possibility to make the world a more healthy place in the future? Let us know your perspective on this issue with a comment below!

(via sciencemag)


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