An enzyme that could help people quit smoking was developed by scientists and successfully tested in rats. While its potential for treating human nicotine addiction is far away, researchers believe it could be turned into a pill that prevents smokers from losing the drug and potentially without any withdrawal symptoms.
Scientists performed an experiment in which two groups of rats were trained to self-manage nicotine for two weeks. Their intake of nicotine increased, indicating addiction.
One of these groups was then given to the enzyme and the other not. Both groups were still able to self-administer nicotine.
Of the enzyme group, the rats received different levels of NicA2-J1
The results, published in Science Advances indicate that the enzyme is effective in the treatment of nicotine dependence in animal models and that it could be further developed for human use in the future.
It is estimated that almost 28 million adults smoke cigarettes in the United States. About 16 million people currently live with a smoking-related illness and reducing smoking rates is a public health problem. Giant steps are taking place, however, rates have dropped from 20 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2016 but still remains a big problem across the country. It is estimated that, if current trends continue, 5.6 million children living in the United States today will die prematurely for a smoking-related illness.
The research was conducted by Marsida Kallupi and Olivier George of the Scripps Research Institute in California. George told Newsweek that they will have to do further research on mice to make sure the enzyme is not toxic and modify it accordingly if there are any problems. He also said that I am confident that this will also carry out human tests.
"Until now we have not seen any significant toxic effects, so we are very optimistic," he said. "The biggest obstacle is not scientific here, it's actually finding the funding that will allow us to take this approach to the clinic … once the funds are guaranteed, I expect we will make very rapid progress."