Promising signs reported for vaccine to stop smoking

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals has reported promising signs in the early clinical trials for its vaccine to aid people in stopping smoking.

Sixteen percent of those who responded to the vaccine, dubbed NicVA, in earlier testing were able to stop smoking and not start again compared to six percent for the placebo group.

These reported numbers are superior or comparable to testing results of Zyban and Chantix, which are prescription medications already approved to help smokers over the age of 18 to quit smoking.

For those tested who responded most effectively to NicVAX, the number of cigarettes smoked was lowered from a baseline of 20 cigarettes per day to 10 cigarettes per day. 

"Finding effective treatments that can help people stay off cigarettes has been a real challenge," Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN. "This phase III trial of a nicotine vaccine offers tremendous hope towards solving this immense public health problem."

NicVAX is designed to stimulate the smoker's immune system to generate antibodies that will attach to the nicotine in a smoker's body and prevent it from entering the brain.

Another positive for NicVAX is that those who took the vaccine experienced few side effects. Both Zyban and Chantix were ordered by the Food and Drug Administration to carry so-called "black box" warnings in 2009 informing of the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.

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