“Vaccine” may help US smokers overcome addiction

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Even the most persistent smoker is aware of all of the dangerous side effects associated with the habit, but most people still have great trouble quitting.

There may be some new hope just around the corner in the shape of a syringe as early stages of testing on a “vaccine” have showed some promise in helping people quit.

The drug NicVAX, created by the Nabi Biopharmaceuticals Company, is in its early developmental stages and is said to act as an immunisation technique to help smokers curb their nicotine addiction.

Associated Press reports: “The treatment keeps nicotine from reaching the brain, taking the fun out of smoking and hopefully making it easier to give up.

“Some nicotine still gets in, possibly easing withdrawal, the main reason quitters relapse.”

A study of gay and bisexual men in the UK for the NHS Smoking Helpline found that 41 per cent of gay and bisexual men are smokers, rising to 60 per cent for 25 to 34 year olds, well in excess of the national average of 25 per cent.

While health risk messages seem to be getting through loud and clear – 91 per cent of respondents know that quitting will improve their health – nearly a third have never tried to give up, the research found.

Although the “vaccine” seems like a revolutionary new approach to an old dilemma, researchers have mixed expectations when it comes to the actual validity of the product.

Even with the drug, only about 16 of the study participants were able to quit smoking altogether, while more were able to cut back considerably.

While the drug is still in its trial phase, it is expected to be fast tracked in the US through the Food and Drug Administrations approval process so it will be available to the public sooner rather than later.

Health officials hope that if the new vaccine is approved, more people will be able to quit.

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