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WTAP @ 5 To Your Health Report: Addiction Vaccine

By: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Email
By: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Email

How many people are addicted to substances in the U.S.?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 46 million Americans smoke, and many of them are addicted to nicotine.

Add those people hooked on cocaine, heroin and other drugs and the numbers are mind boggling.

This past weekend, the National Institute on Drug Abuse unveiled new data on a couple of vaccines, that if proven effective, could help some people kick their habits.

Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with today's Health Minute.

For years, scientists have been looking for ways to help those with substance abuse problems and although some have been able to kick their habits, many people fall back into addiction.

Now the National Institute on Drug Abuse is investing millions of dollars into vaccine research, that could enable doctors to inoculate people against addictive substances like cocaine and nicotine.

"The technology itself, to develop the vaccines, can be applied to nicotine and we've applied it to cocaine, but we can could apply it for heroin, we could apply it for marijuana."

The nicotine vaccine is most likely to hit your physician's office first.

Designed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, the vaccine known as Nicvax is designed to stimulate the immune system to generate antibodies that would latch on to nicotine in a smoker's body, and actually prevent nicotine from entering the brain.

The thought is that without nicotine in the brain, the smoker doesn't get the "high" that causes addiction.

Now in phase three, human trials, researchers have found that in the top 30% of people who developed antibodies, the vaccine helped these participants stay off the nicotine.

"In addition to that it didn't show any adverse side effects, which has been a hallmark of many of the other therapies."

If the vaccine continues to show positive results, it could be available within the next two to three years, depending on FDA approval.

For today's Health Minute, I'm Dr.Sanjay Gupta.


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