Since quitting smoking is so difficult and relapsing is so easy, scientists are eyeing vaccines that make addicts immune to nicotine.
Professor Yung Chang and her colleagues at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have launched an ambitious new project, designed to attack nicotine dependence in a radically new way.
The research effort, pursued under a new $3.3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will attempt to design a vaccine conferring immunity to nicotine, using nanoscale structures assembled from DNA.
According to Gizmodo, the vaccines work by teaching the body’s immune system to recognize and attack the offending substance, clearing it from the body before it can do any damage. For the best response, the target molecule must be properly displayed alongside immune system jump-starters that elicit an immediate response.
Yung Chang , says the controllability of the self-assembling DNA makes a more effective vaccine. By the end of the three-year project, the group hopes to identify promising candidates for a new nicotine vaccine and advance them toward Investigational New Drug submission.