Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found an enzyme that might soon develop into the anti-smoking bacteria therapy that will help smokers finally quit their vice. It has been an issue worldwide for decades. Smoking is globally known as a habit that’s tough to shake and several methods have failed in the past.
In fact, a staggering 80% to 90% of smokers have found it impossible to quit through already existing ‘treatments’, which has left a huge gap in the market for a successful solution. Chemists and biologists at TSRI, however, have found the culminating point of 30 years of their work while studying a possible fix.
They found a highly promising potential solution for nicotine addicts in the Pseudomonas putida bacteria, isolated from soil used in tobacco fields. The enzyme effectively eats away at the nicotine as its main source of nitrogen and carbon, and thus, could be a possible method of preventing addiction.
Researchers at TSRI have managed to accurately recreate the bacteria in their laboratories, now called NicA2, keeping its natural potency that might make it the next big treatment for smokers who wish to quit. It may not sound highly sanitary, but they have conducted tests to assure that P. putida is as highly efficient in a body as it is in soil, without adverse effects.
The study was conducted by introducing the bacteria into a compound of blood injected with a dose of nicotine found in the average cigarette. Like “a little Pac-Man”, the enzyme was able to eat away at the addictive and harmful substance, according to Kim Janda, chemistry professor and member of the Skaggs Institute for chemical biology at TSRI.
The bacteria reduced the nicotine’s life from 2 to 3 hours to a mere 9 to 15 minutes. With more research, modifications and other beneficial chemical components, the time could be dropped down to an absolute zero, essentially stopping the nicotine from ever reaching the brain and causing addiction.
The enzyme was reportedly stable within the laboratories for over three weeks at normal temperatures of 98o Fahrenheit, which is “pretty remarkable”, taking into account the usual lifespan of the average bacteria. It will not only make research easier, but the actual development of a future drug could mean that the anti-smoking therapy itself will not require harsh conditions.
More study is required, and it’s highly likely that the matter will not be neglected as it tackles one of the biggest problems of our age. While cigarette sales are down, more and more teenagers are reportedly taking up smoking as a ‘light habit’, which is just as harmful as active smoking, unknowingly to them.
The anti-smoking bacteria therapy is now a promising solution, releases no harmful toxins in the body, so with more research and chemical tweaks, a compound could be made that minimizes the enzyme’s impact on the immune system and triumphantly conquers nicotine addiction.
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