Health

A Vaccine For Drug and Nicotine Addiction?

Do you have a monkey on your back that you can’t quite shake? Yesterday, there might have been some painful rehab in store for you, but today it’s different and the future looks at least a little bit bright.

Believe it or not, the United States government is now pushing drug companies to develop vaccines for de-hooking those addicted to cocaine and cigarettes.

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Coming on the wings of a genuine need for new and more effective drug treatments, these governmental efforts for vaccine development are possibly as much prophylactic as they are considered actual treatment. It is hoped that these new vaccines will address a range of addictive substances.

According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

“It’s a perspective that is very different from what we’ve operated on in the past. There is an enormous amount of research and development in vaccines for cancers and a wide variety of disorders. We can take advantage of those developments… Still, if it works, a nicotine vaccine could have a huge impact. It’s an international problem that kills five million individuals every year across the world.”

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Recently Volkow’s agency, which is part of the National Institute of Health, awarded Nabi Biopharmaceuticals a $10 million grant (the agency’s highest ever) intended to fund a late-stage clinical trial of Nabi’s vaccine, NIcVAX, for nicotine addiction.

Clinical trials are as vital as they are costly, but they are necessary if drug companies are to be tempted to develop new vaccines.

The Nabi vaccine is designed to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against nicotine. This targets the rewarding effects of nicotine by blocking them, which can help to prevent relapse among smokers trying so desperately to get through that first “hump” of the quitting stage, which by all accounts, is the most difficult to overcome.

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If this vaccine works, the same methods used to create it might also be utilized for other illicit substances. Last month, the National Institute of Health backed the study of an anti-cocaine vaccine, which helped block the high felt by 38 percent of addicts who took it.

Although this news offers great promise, when it comes to peaking drug company interest in vaccines that address illicit drugs, it is still a very hard sell due to liability concerns. The stigma associated with drug abuse also puts a significant damper on help via a “magic vaccine”.

Robert Wasserman, director of Investment Research at Dawson James, a Florida investment firm, stated: “They are still looking at it but it has been very problematic. Vaccines are really tough…and not for the faint of heart.”

By the year 2016, it is expected that the global market for smoking cessation will reach $4.6 billion and vaccines could account for almost half that amount.

Who can say what options will be available to ease the suffering of the addict of tomorrow?

Dare we hope for a society free from illicit drugs? Unfortunately, that seems highly improbable.

Leave a Comment

  1. Toni says:

    It's just a shame that people start smoking at all. If they didn't start in the first place they wouldn't need any "vaccines."

  2. Eddy says:

    Its heart rendering to see small child smoking and becoming addict.even grownup people ignore the drastic results of these habits.one should abolish these habits in daily life.