For those who have the urge to quit smoking but very often backslide, a new vaccine design that delays the effect of nicotine has been discovered.
Smokers who want to quit have a few tools to turn to. There are nicotine patches and gum, but they're not always effective. There are drugs that target nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, but these come with a risk for nasty side effects such as hallucinations, depression and severe mood swings.
Vaccines that target the nicotine molecule itself would be an alternate strategy. Two candidates advanced into clinical trials recently. They ultimately failed -- but not without first yielding clues as to how scientists could improve upon them. Individuals in the trials who produced the highest levels of anti-nicotine antibodies were more likely to abstain from smoking for over six months. Kim D. Janda and colleagues wanted to build on this lead.