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Nicotine-Eating Bacteria May Help Smokers Quit

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in California have been carrying out promising research on a bacterial enzyme that reportedly “eats nicotine like Pac-Man,” according to Medical News Today. The research is still fresh and requires many more tests and experiments in the lab, but those working on the initiative are filled with optimism concerning the potential of this discovery.

(It) eats nicotine like Pac-Man.

The scientists have hope that this bacterial enzyme will be able to seek out nicotine and eliminate it before it is able to reach the brain and cause deep addiction in users of tobacco. This would be a welcome development for many advocates for public health and tobacco-free living, especially since the recent discovery that the death toll of cigarette smokers is actually higher than previously thought.

This therapeutic development comes after over three decades of work in the lab. At last, chemistry professor Kim Janda, a lead on the initiative, has some substantial progress to report. Science Daily reported that Janda said “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.”

Janda’s colleague Song Xue expressed hope that the team could improve the enzyme’s serum stability in additional studies so that a single injection could last up to a month. The bacterium has been successful in reducing the half-life of nicotine exponentially, a wonderful sign that this enzyme, which exists in the natural world outside of artificial lab settings, could provide hope for the millions of smokers and tobacco users worldwide who have long been trying to kick their habits.

The current aids available on the market to assist quitting smokers are only 10-20% effective. Others find it preferable to quit “cold turkey.” Even though this bacterial enzyme is still in the early stages of research, its development is highly promising for anti-tobacco advocates.

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