Vaccines against nicotine

Hum Vaccin. 2009 Apr;5(4):200-5. doi: 10.4161/hv.5.4.7310. Epub 2009 Apr 2.


Medications against any dependence-inducing drug face a dilemma: if they are efficient, they will induce withdrawal symptoms and the patient is likely to stop taking his medication. Anti drug vaccines are irreversible, provide protection over years and need booster injections far beyond the critical phase of acute withdrawal symptoms. Interacting rather with the drug in the blood than with a receptor in the brain, the vaccines are, in addition, free of side effects due to central interaction. For drugs like nicotine interacting with different types of receptors in many organs, this is a further advantage. There are three reasons that anti drug vaccines have first been developed against nicotine. Firstly, in most parts of the world 20 to 50% of the adult population smoke and any smoking cessation treatment will have an important impact on public health and be commercially a very attractive product. The second reason are the smokers themselves, who would like to quit in significant numbers and who have shown good compliance for any form of treatment. Thirdly, the quantities of cocaine or heroine taken by dependant persons are higher than the quantity of nicotine per cigarette, which makes an anti nicotine vaccine the easier vaccine project. Three anti nicotine vaccines are today in an advanced stage of clinical evaluation. We report here how those vaccines work, on the progress of the trials and future developments to expect. Results show that the efficiency of the vaccines is directly related to the antibody levels of the probates, a fact which will help to optimize further the vaccine effect. We expect the vaccines to appear on the market during a time window between 2009 and 2011.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Nicotine / immunology*
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies
  • Vaccines, Conjugate
  • Nicotine