Nordic scientists start trial on nicotine vaccine

Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:56am EDT
By Sven Norsdenstam
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nordic scientists have launched a trial on a vaccine designed to help smokers kick the world's deadliest habit by depriving them of one of its chief pleasures, the firm that owns the vaccine said on Tuesday.
Independent Pharmaceutica, a private company based at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute and founded in 1997 by Professor Torgny Svensson, joins a growing line-up of biotech companies seeking to develop an anti-nicotine shot.
Its researchers say the vaccine eliminates the quick high smokers relish by creating antibodies that bind to nicotine molecules, making them too bulky to enter the brain.
Once the high is gone, the argument goes, so is the main cause of addiction.
In the Phase II study on 400 people in three Nordic countries, researchers will measure the effect of the vaccine on those who have quit smoking and want to avoid relapse.
But they may use it in future to help active smokers quit, according to Independent Pharmaceutica.
Several other vaccines against nicotine dependence are under investigation, but Independent Pharmaceutica Chief Executive Lena Degling Wikingsson said her company hopes to produce a more potent product with fewer side effects than competitors.
"After this Phase II study, we want to have co-operation with a bigger pharmaceutical company to be able to take this further," Wikingsson told Reuters on Tuesday.