Fw: [NEWSROOM-L] Nicotine fight aims at brain receptors
ptpeet at nyc.rr.com
Wed Jun 28 17:52:04 EDT 2006
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From: "mcoady" <mcoady at COMCAST.NET>
To: <NEWSROOM-L at LISTS.NETSPACE.ORG>
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2006 10:52 AM
Subject: [NEWSROOM-L] Nicotine fight aims at brain receptors
Nicotine fight aims at brain receptors
Vaccine, drug in development
By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff | June 26, 2006
Smokers are about to get some radically different methods to help them quit,
based in large part on scientists' progress in attacking nicotine addiction
where it happens: in the smoker's brain.
Last week, patients in a clinical trial at Massachusetts General Hospital
received their first doses of an experimental vaccine that keeps most
nicotine from entering the brain. By late summer, Pfizer expects to begin
selling a new pill that partially blocks a receptor -- a type of on-off
switch -- in the brain that seems to be the central culprit in smoking
Also on its way, researchers say, is an experimental drug that targets
receptors first discovered in research on marijuana and the ``munchies." By
damping down areas of the brain involved in craving, this drug may help
smokers quit without gaining much weight, initial studies suggest.
For the first time in 10 years, ``we have completely new approaches for
smoking cessation," and there is hope that the new drugs, because they
better target the brain's addiction response, could prove more effective
than current treatments," said Dr. Nancy Rigotti, director of Mass.
General's Tobacco Research and Treatment Center. She cautioned, though, that
none of the new treatments ``is a magic bullet."
New tools to help quit smoking are desperately needed, federal health
authorities say. Among the 44 million Americans who smoke, about 70 percent
would like to quit and 40 percent really try. But in a given year, fewer
than 5 percent of would-be quitters actually succeed, a National Institutes
of Health panel said last week.
Current drug treatments are moderately effective, on average doubling the
success rate of smokers trying to quit compared with those who attempt to
break their addiction without any pharmaceutical assistance, said Rigotti.
The arsenal for quitters includes various types of counseling, nicotine
replacement in forms ranging from patches to lozenges to inhalers, and
Zyban, an antidepressant found to help smokers kick the habit.
None of these has helped Tim Campbell, 44, of Ipswich. Despite endless
urging from his wife and six children, and a half-dozen attempts to quit
that have included Zyban, nicotine gum, the patch, and hypnosis, he just
cannot beat his pack-a-day habit. In 30 years of smoking, the longest he has
ever stayed away from cigarettes was about a month. Cigarettes are the first
thing on his mind every morning; he smoked even during a cancer walk with
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