A recent report from the Journal of the American Chemical Society, published August 19, 2015, details a brand-new approach to quitting smoking by using nicotine eating bacteria.
Most people who smoke cigarettes know smoking is bad for their health, but quitting is notoriously hard to do. Kicking the butt causes withdrawal, which can be uncomfortable. It often means making multiple attempts before finally being able to quit the habit.
Enter the nicotine eating bacteria! In the study, researchers turned to bacteria that flourish on nicotine, the addictive component found in tobacco products. The bacterial enzyme breaks down nicotine, potentially reducing its effects on smokers.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. Many use products that replace smoking, which include patches, gums as well as products that prevent nicotine from reaching the brain – the site addiction takes hold. Despite this array of nicotine-releasing aids meant to help you quit, the success rates of these options remains low.
Lead researcher Kim D. Janda and colleagues think that the enzyme found in nicotine eating bacteria, NicA2 (Pseudomonas putida), will make quitting easier. In lab tests, NicA2 broke down nicotine in blood samples taken from smokers in 30 minutes. The bacterial-enzyme also remained stables for more than three weeks in a buffer solution.
Mice tested with the enzyme showed no observable side effects, making it a good drug candidate. The team is now looking into adapting the enzyme’s makeup to zero-out any negative effects on the immune system and boost its therapeutic effectiveness.
Researchers are also testing other uses for different bacteria (Clostridium novyi) in cancer therapy. This particular bacterium is a modified version of the flesh-eating bacterium. They have already reached human trials with the first patient being treated for a tumor in her shoulder.