Nicotine vaccine to be tested at Massachusetts General Hospital
Clinical trial will investigate new way to assist smokers seeking to quit
BOSTON â€“ People tackling the daunting task of trying to quit smoking could find help through a novel approach being tested at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The MGH Tobacco Research and Treatment Center is participating in a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of NicVAX, a nicotine vaccine designed to prevent the nicotine in cigarette smoke from reaching a smoker's brain and producing nicotine addiction.
"Previous studies of the vaccine have found it is effective in keeping nicotine from entering the brain, where it produces rewarding effects," says Nancy Rigotti, MD, director of the MGH Tobacco Research and Treatment Center. "Reducing or eliminating the gratifying effects of a cigarette may help wean smokers off of their addiction to nicotine."
NicVAX â€“ manufactured by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, Maryland â€“ elicits the production of nicotine antibodies. If someone smokes after being immunized, these antibodies bind with nicotine molecules in the bloodstream and prevent them from entering the brain where the nicotine receptors that cause addiction are located. Previous research has shown that since antibody levels rise gradually, smokers lose the nicotine reward over time, avoiding uncomfortable nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
"While the vaccine does not prevent a person from lighting a cigarette, we hope this new approach will make quitting easier by moderating the effects of nicotine," said Rigotti.
The MGH is one of 20 medical centers nationwide participating in the current study and is the only location in Massachusetts. Eligible participants are healthy smokers, aged 18 and older, who are motivated to quit. During the first half of the yearlong trial, participants will receive six injections of either NicVAX or a placebo and will receive smoking cessation counseling. Participants will be followed for an additional six months to track their long-term success in quitting smoking.
Prospective study participants can receive more information by calling (617) 724-3157 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MGH Tobacco Research and Treatment Center integrates clinical services providing state-of-the-art smoking-cessation treatment with a multidisciplinary research group that develops and tests smoking treatment interventions. It offers group counseling programs with the option of low cost nicotine replacement therapy (patch & gum) and monitoring of other tobacco treatment medications.
Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of nearly $500 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, transplantation biology and photomedicine. MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital are founding members of Partners HealthCare HealthCare System, a Boston-based integrated health care delivery system.
Media Contacts: Jennifer Gundersen, 617-724-6433, email@example.com