Novartis AG has acquired worldwide exclusive rights to a novel vaccine candidate against nicotine addiction from Cytos Biotechnology AG for up to 600 million Swiss francs (US$500 million; €366 million) for the exclusive right to develop, produce and market an experimental drug it hopes will help cure smokers of their habit.
Phase II trials have indicated that this potentially first-in-class vaccine, called CYT002-NicQb (“NicQb”), has the potential to promote abstinence from smoking in patients who achieved high antibody levels following vaccination. A subsequent study determined the optimal dose for future trials, and this compound is set to enter Phase III trials in late 2008. NicQb acts by inducing the body to develop antibodies – a class of blood proteins generated by the immune system – that bind specifically to nicotine molecules in the bloodstream. The resulting complex is too large to cross the blood-brain barrier, significantly reducing the uptake of this highly addictive substance and preventing the so-called “nicotine high,” a form of stimulation that can cause a significant failure rate in people attempting to quit smokinglinks.
More from Novartis’ press release or the International Herald Tribune report. More about NicQb from SmokersVaccine.com.