Swedish Team Working on Anti-Smoking Vaccine
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A research team at Sweden's medical Karolinska Institute is talking to drug companies about developing a vaccine against tobacco addiction, the professor in charge of the unit said Thursday.
``We are talking to drug companies -- I will not say who they are -- but the Karolinska itself has some funds for this,'' said Torgny Svensson, professor of pharmacology at the institute.
The vaccine could work by binding nicotine molecules to larger protein molecules and so stopping the nicotine from reaching reward centers in the brain -- the ``high'' which tobacco users experience.
Similar research is being conducted independently in the United States and in Britain, Svensson said.
``The injection does not reduce the craving, but it may help people by preventing the nicotine from getting through the blood brain barrier to the reward centers,'' he said.
Target groups could be smokers who have already kicked the habit for a year -- notoriously vulnerable to relapse -- pregnant women and people suffering from emphysema.
``We are still investigating whether the injection might also stop nicotine from reaching the placenta in pregnant women,'' Svensson added.
The vaccine is at present being tested on animals, but could be tried on humans in future.