KHIMKI, September 6. (ITAR-TASS) – Russian scientists are currently working on the first ever vaccine which could help quit smoking; it may be available in pharmacies in as early as five years. Dmitry Ovchinnikov, Deputy Director General of the company developing the drug, Selecta RUS confirmed: “We’re currently going through the second phase of clinical trials.”
Selecta RUS is a subsidiary of an American innovation company which opened the Khimki branch in 2012. Ovchinnikov said that development of the ‘anti-tobacco’ and other vaccines was moved from the U.S. to Russia, as “experts of required qualification work here.” Favorable financing conditions were also a factor: for instance, the vaccine project has received a grant from Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The scientists noted that “existing methods of curing tobacco addiction are ineffective,” adding that the new vaccine will be a breakthrough. The drug makes recipient’s body start producing antibodies which block nicotine before it reaches the brain.
Khimki lab scientists are working on a molecular “nano-container,” which can precisely deliver vaccine components in cells which are responsible for launching immune reaction. Produced anti-bodies bind nicotine contained in blood; the resulting complex becomes too large to bypass the blood–brain barrier, which restrict diffusion of dangerous microscopic objects, such as bacteria and harmful molecules. As a result, nicotine cannot access the brain’s “pleasure center” – thus smoking ceases to bring the feeling of euphoria and satisfaction. The chain of pathological tobacco addiction is thus broken.
Ovchinnikov added that Selecta RUS scientists are also working on other vaccines against other afflictions such as melanoma, type 1 diabetes and hepatitis B.
“Operation of this laboratory is a vivid example of technology transfer to Russia,” said Sergei Filippov, representative of Rusnano. He added that Rusnano owns 12% of SelectaBiosciences, the American company which owns Selecta RUS.