Smokers in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area who want to quit are needed to test out a new nicotine-busting drug. Mary Carlson, a nurse practitioner at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, says they’re experimenting with a different way of treating nicotine addiction — through a vaccine.
“It has a nicotine molecule that is attached to a protein,” Carlson says. “The antibodies pick up the molecules of nicotine as you smoke and don’t allow them to cross the blood-brain barrier, the nicotine going to the brain, the receptors where you get the pleasure of smoking, so this decreases your pleasure in smoking.” Omaha is among 20 places in the U.S. where NickVax will be tested. Carlson says volunteers will get a series of vaccines as well as counseling sessions.
“Fifty-percent of the people will get the vaccine and 50-percent will get a placebo,” Carlson says. “We know that approximately 15 to 18-percent of people can stop smoking with using counseling alone so even if they’re getting a placebo, they’re getting a tool to stop smoking.” Carlson says there are six shots in the series.
“The vaccine is given within two weeks after the screening,” she says. “Then the vaccine is given once a month, four more times and the last one a two-month break between and that’s like getting a booster.” Reports show the vaccine helps to eliminate many of the typical withdraw symptoms, like irritability, insomnia, weight gain and depression. For more information, contact UNMC.