Fw: [NEWSROOM-L] Nicotine fight aims at brain receptors

Preston Peet ptpeet at nyc.rr.com
Wed Jun 28 17:52:04 EDT 2006

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "mcoady" <mcoady at COMCAST.NET>
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 
his sister.

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