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A Critical Evaluation of a Nicotine Vaccine within a Self-Administration Behavioral Model

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journal contribution
posted on 05.04.2010, 00:00 by Amira Y. Moreno, Marc R. Azar, Noelle A. Warren, Tobin J. Dickerson, George F. Koob, Kim D. Janda
(S)-Nicotine is a psychostimulant legal drug responsible for causing addiction to tobacco smoking. Tobacco smoking has been irrevocably linked to a number of serious diseases and at present is considered the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Despite well-documented adverse medical consequences, nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest to break. Current therapies have offered limited success and show high rates of relapse, emphasizing the need to engineer alternative therapies to aid nicotine cessation. The current study presents a protein-based immunopharmacotherapy approach for the treatment of nicotine addiction. Immunopharmacotherapy aims to use highly specific antibodies to blunt passage of drug into the brain thus minimizing reinforcing effects on the reward pathways of the central nervous system. Generation of a successful vaccine heavily relies on appropriate optimization of hapten design, immunogenic carrier and adjuvant. Modification of a classical nicotine hapten in conjugation with three distinct carrier proteins allowed for priming of a nicotine vaccine able to elicit significant amounts of nicotine-specific antibodies. Increased self-administration with use of a high drug dose (0.03 mg/kg/infusion; ∼2 cigarettes in human) was observed in the vaccinated versus control animals suggesting a compensatory pattern and possibly reduced passage of nicotine to the brain. These results support the hypothesis that proper optimization of vaccine formulations could lead to successful nicotine vaccines for human use.