Cool Invention: NicVax

We know that quitting smoking is tough. Even tougher: quitting for good.

Readers Digest reports a new vaccine holds promise for the 90 percent of quitters who relapse.

After six monthly injections, users of NicVax build up antibodies to nicotine, just as they would to a disease.

If you smoke when you’re on it, your bloodstream is flooded with nicotine. The antibodies attach to the nicotine’s molecules, making them too big to cross into the brain’s pleasure center. Result: smoking buzz officially killed.

Unlike some antismoking drugs, the vaccine doesn’t act on the central nervous system, which may result in fewer side effects like dry mouth and difficulty sleeping.

In clinical trials, heavy smokers with high antibody levels were twice as likely to quit for a year, prompting Nora Volkow, MD, of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to extol NicVax as “giving smokers a fighting chance to end the addiction-relapse cycle.”

The vaccine could be available in 2012.

Photo by Readers Digest.

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