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New type of vaccine against nicotine addiction developed by TSRI scientists

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have designed a new way to make vaccines against drugs of abuse that could become a valuable tool for treating addiction by helping the body clear the drug from the bloodstream.

The latest vaccine they created using this approach induces the body to clear nicotine.

"These new vaccines greatly suppress the reinforcing aspects of the drug," says principal investigator Kim D. Janda, Ph.D. "Blocking it before it gets to the brain--that's the key."

The structure and design of the nicotine vaccine are described in an article that will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Research Associate Michael M. Meijler, Ph.D., who is the article's lead author, synthesized this vaccine under the guidance of Janda, who holds the Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry and is an investigator in The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI.

Having shown the vaccine's effectiveness in laboratory models, Meijler and Janda have now reformulated the vaccine for investigation for use in human trials. Eventually, this sort of vaccine would be given to people undergoing smoking cessation programs to aid in their recovery.

Many believe that people continue to smoke because tobacco contains nicotine, which is an addictive chemical. Many smoking cessation strategies, in fact, provide cigarette addicts with nicotine from sources other than tobacco--such as patches or gum.

Janda and his laboratory, however, have taken an "immunopharmacotherapy" approach. That is, they have designed a drug that stimulates the immune system to clear the nicotine from the system. They based this work on previous successes Janda had in developing a vaccine for another addictive drug--cocaine--which is currently in clinical trials.

The new idea that they have developed is to take a chemical that resembles nicotine and use it to induce an active immune response. In
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Contact: Jason Bardi
jasonb@scripps.edu
858-784-9254
Scripps Research Institute
21-May-2003


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