Nicotine Addiction is the commonest global addiction. The current literature highlights that it can take between 8- 12 attempts by an individual, on average, to stop smoking. The current pharmacological approaches to aid smoking cessation include Nicotine Replacement Therapies, Bupropion and Varenicline. Psychological support is a very important aspect in managing Nicotine Addiction and has to be integrated with the prescription of medications as recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, UK)
The good news is that a new Vaccine- NicVAX® (Nicotine Conjugate Vaccine) is undergoing clinical trials and the results have been promising so far. It is interesting to understand the basis behind the vaccine- Nicotine is a very small molecule that can cross the Blood- Brain barrier very efficiently without the body getting a chance to form an immunological response (antibodies to a foreign particle). The vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies in the bloodstream, which then get attached to the smoked Nicotine molecule and stops it from crossing the Blood- Brain Barrier brain and thus limits the effects it causes on the brain, thereby decreasing the positive effects of smoking (positive reinforcement). This reduction in the effects of Nicotine makes it easier for the individual to give up smoking.
I am hoping and working for this vaccine to come to Wales sooner rather than later!