A new study reveals a nicotine-eating bacteria that takes mental high and fun out of smoking.
The research was conducted at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) who were searching for an alternate, and effective, solution for people who wanted to quit smoking but needed help, according to NYC Today.
The nicotine-eating bacteria has an enzyme that would prevent the nicotine from ever reaching the brain, which in turn, who rob the smoker of any mental pleasure in the activity. The bacterial enzyme is called NicA2 is geared to make smoking less rewarding for smokers, in turn, internally encouraging them to quit.
The lead of the study, Kim Janda, is a chemistry professor and member of the Skaggs Institute for chemical biology at TSRI. Janda said that the experiment is promising, but still in the early stages. They hope that it will soon become one of the most successful therapies for smoking cessation.
The study to create this breakthrough therapy has been under the microscope for many years in the lab. The process has proven to work as they have been able to extract the enzyme from bacterium Pseudomonas putida.
The therapy is predicted to help about 80-90 percent of smokers who choose to use it. When used, the enzyme has effectively dropped the half-life of nicotine from hours down to minutes once added into the bloodstream. They also predict that at higher doses, the effect could be even more powerful.
Janda added, “The bacterium is like a little Pac-Man. It goes along and eats nicotine. Our research is in the early phase of drug development process, but the study tells us the enzyme has the right properties to eventually become a successful therapeutic.”
The enzyme was originally discovered in the soil from a tobacco field. The bacterium naturally consumes nicotine as a main source of nitrogen and carbon. The testing continued there in the lab where researches happily found the enzyme to be stable, which Janda says was an amazing sign.
“The enzyme is also relatively stable in serum, which is important for a therapeutic candidate,” said Song Xue, a TSRI graduate student.