Antismoking Vaccine Fails Trial

July 19, 2011

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals' antismoking vaccine, NicVax, performed no better than a placebo in a Phase 3 clinical trial, the company announced yesterday.

An antismoking vaccine produced disappointing results in a Phase 3 clinical trial, its developer, Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, announced yesterday. The vaccine, NicVax, was the first of its kind to get this close to obtaining FDA approval.

The year-long trial included 1,000 smokers who professed interest in quitting. Success was defined as total abstinence from smoking for the last 16 weeks of the trial, as measured by participant self-reports and exhalation tests. The company announced that just 11% of participants who received NicVax quit successfully, almost exactly the same percentage as those who received a placebo injection.

NicVax is designed to produce antibodies that bind to nicotine and prevent it from entering the brain, where it usually binds to receptors and releases pleasure-producing chemicals. Deprived of the pleasure they usually got from nicotine, the theory went, smokers would have an easier time quitting. Although the vaccine apparently performed as expected in terms of blocking nicotine’s passage to the brain, it failed to help smokers quit.

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals is running a second Phase 3 trial, with results expected by early 2012, though expectations for success are now lowered.

Around the Web

Nabi stop-smoking treatment fails in trials [Market Watch]

Antismoking Vaccine Fails in Late Trial [The New York Times]