Novel Nicotine Vaccine Trial
Mar 01, 2013

cigarette2Contributed by Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Every Child by Two
Let me start this post with a disclaimer.  
I hate cigarettes and am a completely biased reporter on all potential therapies that can help people stop smoking. That being said, results from a trial to test a novel nicotine vaccine were recently reported in Forbes and although the writer clarifies that there are potential setbacks to the study data, I can’t help but review the study with an eye towards success.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.
• In the United States, smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (i.e., about 443,000 deaths per year, and an estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure).
• On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
nicotineThe vaccine, NicVAX would in effect block the amount of nicotine that can enter the brain which results in less nicotine to fuel the addiction. In this small study, reported by the American Journal of Psychiatry, the participants not only reduced their cigarette use by 40%, but also reported a substantial decrease in cravings. For more on this research,read the Forbes article here.
PD_0009Cigarettes took the life of my grandmother.  They took my father before I even made it down the wedding aisle. They took my mother before my two sons ever had the chance to really know her.
Last year, my 11-year-old son shared his memories of my mother from when he was just a toddler.  Sadly, he only remembered a sort of scary lady with a tube connected to her face.  Of course, this made me want to cry. She wasn’t a scary lady.  She was a quiet and caring woman who loved kids, but had no strength to enjoy them because of the terrible emphysema she was suffering with when my babies were young.  Rather than spending her last few years enjoying her grandchildren, she was constantly being rushed from hospital to hospital in distress from her COPD.  On more than one occasion, her activities had to be restricted by the long-term care she required.
She eventually succumbed to what I can only presume was pneumonia during her battle with breast cancer. I will never forget the day when her cancer specialist explained that they could cure her cancer, but only if she could gain her weight back and get her breathing under control.  It was a death sentence for a woman who had repeatedly tried  to quit smoking.
PD_0149According to The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids , each day, 3,500 kids in the United States try their first cigarette; and nearly 1,000 additional kids under 18 years of age become new regular, daily smokers. That’s nearly 400,000 new underage daily smokers in this country each year!
I hate cigarettes and the fact that companies market them to young children. I also have a great respect for the power of vaccines, and will therefore keep a watchful  eye out as the nicotine vaccine trials continue.  Hopefully the day will come, in the not-so-distant future, when a nicotine vaccine may be able to save the lives of my friends and family who are tethered to cigarettes.  When that day does arrive, I will gladly offer to pay for their vaccine, for I want nothing more than to improve their chances of overcoming this life-threatening addiction.


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