There’s something new in the air for people trying to quit cigarettes and it’s not the smell of smoke. In case you haven’t read about it yet, Nabi Biopharmaceuticals is currently running their nicotine vaccine NicVax through the paces of the FDA’s phase three clinical trials. NicVax is surrounded by an understandable excitement and fervor, but what are the facts?

First it’s important to outline what NicVax is not. It’s not a cure for the rigors connected with the fight to quite smoking or a guarantee that one will be successful at stopping. NicVax is intended to be an aide to smoking cessation and the clinical trial numbers on Nabi’s site appear to indicate just that. Of the test subjects with a high antibody response 16% showed significant abstinence at twelve months versus 6% in those that received a placebo. While 16% may not be the results recovering smokers where hoping for, the odds of success are substantially greater than without. So how does it work?

NicVax works on a similar philosophy to most vaccines but there are some important differences. Upon injection into the bloodstream NicVax triggers the immune system to begin producing antibodies that specifically bind to nicotine molecules. The binding of the antibodies with nicotine creates a particle too large to cross the blood-brain barrier thereby inhibiting the trigged release of stimulants like dopamine. While many of the vaccines the public is accustomed to require only a single dose, NicVax requires four. Additionally the life expectancy of the vaccination is roughly a year.

Again, even though these results and statistics many not be the golden ticket people hoped for, they are a compelling improvement over current alternatives. Moreover, time may give Nabi the opportunity to fine tune dosages and further improve results. In any case, there are definitely more than a few people eager for FDA approval.

by Ward Sieben

NicVax Clinical results