University of California, San Francisco inviting tobacco users to test new nicotine vaccine

Thursday, June 15, 2006

University of California, San Francisco

Tobacco users are being invited by the University of California, San Francisco's Habit Abatement Clinic to test NicVax, a new vaccine being developed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals. Tobacco users may be test subjects under the condition that they are at least 18 years old and willing to commit to a one-year program of injections and follow-up visits. UCSF is one of nine testing centers.

When tobacco smoke is inhaled, the chemical nicotine enters the bloodstream. The blood affected by nicotine eventually enters the brain, triggering neuro-receptors to react and cause addiction. This vaccine would produce antibodies to identify the nicotine molecule and prevent it from reaching the brain. "With little or no nicotine reaching the brain, smoking is less rewarding. That gives the smoker a chance to change the behavioral and social factors that also influence smoking," said Victor Reus, MD, principal investigator for the study at UCSF.

The antibodies of the NicVax last up to 12 months within the human body. If a person tries to smoke months after beginning the vaccination, there would not be a typical soothing feeling.