|Vaccine may prevent nicotine addiction|
|Written by Drew Zimmerman, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 10 July 2012 18:03|
Science Translational Medicine recently published a study that examines the effects of a smoking vaccine on the levels of nicotine in the brains of mice.
The vaccine, developed by Weill Cornell Medical College, uses an antibody that attacks nicotine before it can have any biological effect on the body. The study showed that the treatment was able to block any alterations in blood pressure, heart rate and locomotor activity in mice caused by nicotine.
However, there are a lot more physical and emotional effects of nicotine, according to Robin Mermelstein, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois–Chicago.
"Nicotine is a psychoactive agent that activates receptors in the brain. There can be a variety of powerful mood effects because nicotine is a mood leveler and it can have acute effects on focus and concentration. Withdrawal from it can lead to irritability and anxiousness and sleep disturbances," Mermelstein said.
Tests show that a single dose of the vaccine treated mice over their lifetime against nicotine addiction. After vaccination, levels of nicotine in the brains of mice were reduced by 85 percent. Whether this percentage is enough to stop addiction in humans is uncertain.
Although tests for mice are promising, it will take years of research before the vaccine can be tested on humans. Researchers intend to test the vaccine on rats and primates before people
Other efforts to fight nicotine have already been developed, including a vaccine that trains the immune system to create nicotine-binding antibodies, similar to vaccinations against various diseases.
A gene therapy vaccine is also being developed, which acts as a virus that trains the liver to create nicotine-fighting antibodies. A concern with this type of vaccine is whether it produces enough antibodies to fight off nicotine.
The greatest concern with nicotine vaccination is the psychological effects of addiction that may not be seen within mice. Ethical issues are also being raised if children should receive vaccination before they start smoking.
Current smoking cessation treatments, such as nicotine patches and gum as well as the drugs Zyban and Chantix, are available at Student Health Services.
"Doctors at SHS can help patients develop a smoking cessation program and prescribe medications, when appropriate. Ongoing follow-ups are recommended to improve success rates," Jean Swearingen, medical director of Student Health Services, said.
On the Health Promotion and Wellness website, students who want to quit smoking are encouraged to visit the Health Promotion and Wellness office in McCormick Hall, suite 187, in the Student Fitness Center Complex and the G Spot gazebo. Students are also able to contact Student Health Services and Student Counseling Services to speak with a medical provider or counselor about quitting.
More information and resources on how to quit smoking are available at Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/Healthy-Living/.