Researchers are apparently working on a new anti-smoking drug that is based on a nicotine eating bacteria that consumes the substance before it reaches the brain. Ideally, the new treatment will help a lot more people to successfully quit smoking.
According to researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, the nicotine eating bacteria could be created in a laboratory and has numerous features that could make the enzyme an anti-smoking drug. The team of scientists has been trying to develop the special nicotine eating bacteria for over 30 years.
Kim Janda, professor of chemistry and senior author of the study said that the research is in the beginning stages of the development process for a new drug, however, the study revealed that the nicotine eating bacteria has great properties that could potentially make it therapeutically successful.
It was reported that the researchers only reached the results that they wanted when they turned to nature. They discovered a bacterium, called Pseudomonas putida, remote from the ground of a tobacco field that consumes nicotine as its only supply of carbon and nitrogen. The bacterium uses an enzyme called NicA2 to help it consume the nicotine.
The scientists put together serum from mice with an equal amount of nicotine found inside a cigarette. After they did this, they added the enzyme. They discovered that, usually, it would take about three hours for the levels of nicotine to be reduced to half, but with the new enzyme, the levels of nicotine were reduced to half in just 15 minutes.
Janda said that they are able to make a lot more chemical modifications that would let the enzyme reduce the nicotine levels even faster, so that it wouldn’t reach the brain anymore. On top of this, the scientists revealed that the nicotine eating bacteria is a potentially great drug candidate, presenting no detectable toxic byproducts and remaining stable inside the laboratory, after reducing the amount of nicotine. The new enzyme was stable in serum form.
With the help of the new nicotine eating bacteria, the sessions of therapy would involve destroying the nicotine inside the body before reaching the brain. This will prevent the reward kick given by nicotine that leads to the addiction. The new therapy will be able to help smokers everywhere quit the habit a lot better, given the fact that around 80 percent to 90 percent who attempt to quit smoking fail.
The new research was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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