For those of you who are smoking addicts and want to quit smoking, there’s a good new for you. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) may have found an effective solution for those who want to quit smoking. The study was published in the journal of the American Chemical Society. The study was named “A new strategy for smoking cessation: Characterization of a bacterial enzyme for the degradation of nicotine.”
Kim Janda, Professor of chemistry and a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI, said “Our research is in the early phase of the drug development process, but the study tells us the enzyme has the right properties to eventually become a successful therapeutic.”
The enzyme from the bacteria named Pseudomonas putida eats the nicotine before it travels to the brain. It is obtained from the soil in tobacco fields. The bacteria can offer an enzyme which will prevent nicotine from reaching brain of smokers, thereby reducing the ‘reward’ of smoking. So basically the enzyme will make smoking less rewarding for smokers.
Kim Janda said that while the experiment is still in its early stages nothing can be said for sure, but they are pretty confident that it could be a successful therapy to treat smoking addiction. Janda and his team has been trying for a long time to create the enzyme NicA2 in the lab. Now they have been successful in extracting the enzyme from bacterium Pseudomonas plutida.
The technique could be very effective in treating addiction as the enzyme has a powerful effect on nicotine. Nicotine’s half-life dropped to 9-15 minutes compared to 2-3 hours, when the enzyme was added to bloodstream. Jada said “The bacterium is like Pac-man. It goes along and eat nicotine.” Importantly, it produce no toxic metabolites after degrading nicotine.
“The enzyme is also relatively stable in serum, which is important for a therapeutic candidate,” said Song Xue, a TSRI graduate student and first author of the new study.
Janda said the next step is to alter the enzyme’s bacterial makeup, which will help mitigate potential immune liabilities and maximize its therapeutic potential.
“Hopefully we can improve its serum stability with our future studies so that a single injection may last up to a month,” added Xue.
In addition to Janda and Xue, Joel E. Schlosburg of TSRI was an author of the study, “A new strategy for smoking cessation: Characterization of a bacterial enzyme for the degradation of nicotine.”
So far it seems pretty promising as a treatment. We have to see how it does perform in the real world though.