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Coming soon: A vaccine to help smokers quit?


Forget the patches, the electronic cigarettes, the nicotine gum: Pretty soon quitting smoking could be as simple as getting one single shot. Researchers have created a vaccine that floods the body with an antibody that stops nicotine from reaching the brain, rendering the relaxing effects of cigarettes ineffective. Experts believe this could pave the way for new treatments that help smokers kick the bad habit for good. Here’s what you should know about the vaccine:

How does it work?
The vaccine tricks the body into creating antibodies that attack nicotine as soon as it enters the system, effectively making it impossible to experience that “high” you get from a cigarette. Its creators used a harmless virus to sneak instructions for making special nicotine-targeting antibodies into the liver, kind of like a “Trojan horse.” Once those cells were “infected” by the virus, they began to produce a protein that targeted the cancer-causing chemical. “It’s sort of like having Pac-Man floating around in the blood,” says researcher Ronald G. Crystal of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

How effective is the vaccine?

Full guide at The Week.

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