Researchers in a few countries, including the United States, UK, and Sweden, such as Sweden's Karolinska Institute are working independently on a "vaccine" to nicotene addiction. This vaccine would work like vaccines for diseases, prompting your immune system to create antibodies. Instead of searching for disease causing antigens, however, these antibodies would seek out nicotine molecules, effectively preventing them from entering the reward centers in the brain.

This means that any non-smoker vaccinated will never become addicted to smoking because it won't make them feel good. While the vaccine will not reduce cravings in those who do smoke, it will not give smokers who decide to quit a chance to change their minds.

This would be a severe blow to the tobacco companies as it would almost entirely sever their supply of new customers in areas where the vaccine is available, and most likely, reduce their supply of current customers.

Which bring us to the question of why this issue hasn't gained more exposure. I've only seen one comprehensive story about it, in a single website, and found obscure references upon searching for it. Never have I heard of any television or radio media related to the issue. Why? Isn't this a pretty big story? The tobacco companies have a lot of money and influence and could, conceivably cause a few broadcasters to neglect to air anything about it. If this is the case, then it's pretty scary.

As for how the projects are progressing, here's a bit from another story I found:

"We are encouraged by the results obtained so far in these studies," says Dr. Pentel. The next steps will be to conduct additional safety studies, followed by clinical trials with the vaccine in human volunteers. These clinical trials are currently scheduled to be coordinated by Nabi Pharmaceuticals beginning in early 2002. The rest of this story can be found at: http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec99/nida-17.htm

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