New research has identified an enzyme that may be highly effective with smoking cessation treatment, showing promise for smokers who can not seem to kick the habit using other treatment methods and products. Researchers hope that the bacterial enzyme that could be delivered as a drug to treat nicotine addiction. The enzyme actually seeks out and destroys nicotine in the body before this substance can reach the brain, preventing the smoker from getting any of the reward associated with nicotine delivery to the brain. This can help prevent a relapse because the nicotine trigger is not activated as expected. According to Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute member and Ely R. Callaway Jr. Professor of Chemistry Dr. Kim Janda, “Our research is in the early phase of drug development process, but the study tells us the enzyme has the right properties to eventually become a successful therapeutic.”
The enzyme smoking cessation treatment study findings were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Janda explained “The bacterium is like a little Pac-Man. It goes along and eats nicotine. It was a long shot. If it didn’t have the right metrics, it would be a bust.” Study first author and TSRI graduate student Song Xue said “The enzyme is also relatively stable in serum, which is important for a therapeutic candidate. Hopefully we can improve its serum stability with our future studies so that a single injection may last up to a month.” The application of an enzyme as a smoking cessation treatment would be revolutionary.