Though more research needs to be done, a recent study shows that a type of bacterial enzyme that sucks in all the nicotine in your blood stream before reaching the brain could become a major breakthrough in helping people give up smoking.
Researchers said that their newly found nicotine-loving enzyme may be used in creating designing the most effective anti-smoking pill to date.
The recent study, which was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, shows that the enzyme can be artificially created in laboratory conditions. Dr. Kim Janda, a senior researcher involved in the study, explained that the bacteria are an ideal candidate for the role of a perfect anti-smoking solution.
The research team had tried to create such enzyme in a laboratory for more than three decades. But only recently, they noticed that such bacteria already existed in nature. So, they only needed to isolate and replicate them.
They said they found the nicotine-addicted bacteria in the soil of a field of tobacco. Those bacteria fed off nicotine alone and used the substance as a unique source of nitrogen and carbon.
Prof. Janda likened the tiny bacterium, dubbed Pseudomonas putida, to a microscopic Pac-Man. This “Pac-Man” needs an enzyme named NicA2 that allows it to metabolize nicotine.
Study authors hope that their finding will play a key role in developing a smoke cessation therapy that actually works. They noted that current therapies fail in 80-90 percent of cases.
The enzyme-based therapy will be different from any other anti-smoking therapy because the bacterial enzymes would seek and destroy the addictive nicotine before reaching the brain. As a result, smokers won’t feel satisfaction after smoking a cigarette.
Moreover, the enzymes do a great job in lowering the time nicotine is present in the body. Researchers learned this by mixing the blood of laboratory mice with a high dose of nicotine. It took 9 to 15 minutes for the substance to halve, when under normal conditions it would have taken two to three hours.
Prof. Janda believes that the process can be made even shorter with a few biochemical tweaks. If they succeed, researchers will be able to prevent nicotine from reaching the nervous system.
Additionally, the enzyme is not toxic and doesn’t pose a risk of mutating. After a series of experiments, scientists found that the enzyme did not produce harmful byproducts afterwhen it ate nicotine. Plus it was still functional after researchers kept it at 98 degrees F (37 degrees C) three straight weeks.
Image Source: The Weekly Observer