Cigarette smokers in the Council Bluffs area who are trying to quit may soon find relief. A vaccine being tested at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha promises to help smokers kick the habit by keeping the addictive chemical nicotine from reaching the brain. Dr. Stephen Rennard, a U-N-M-C researcher and principal investigator on the project, says it’s a revolutionary concept.The idea is that antibodies in the vaccine bind to nicotine molecules and makes them too big to get into the brain where all the addiction takes place. Rennard says the vaccine could have enormous implications by blocking nicotine. He says it would make it easier for people to quit. And, if they “fall of the wagon,” it would make it less likely they’d get addicted again.The study will be conducted on a group of volunteers, not only see how it works, but also to see if there are any negative side effects. Rennard says most smoking cessation programs only work about 20-percent of the time and people go back to smoking. The vaccine would keep that from happening. If this study is successful, the vaccine could be available to the public in just a few years. Rennard says nicotine is a potent psychological compound that’s as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Smoking kills 430-thousand people every year.
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