Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have developed the vaccine in conjunction with Independent Pharmaceutica, a Swedish firm with plans to test the product, called Niccine, at five clinics in three Scandinavian countries.
”Today there is no treatment for preventing relapse of individuals who have managed to stop smoking. Despite new and relatively effective products that help people stop smoking, about 80 percent of the persons that have stopped smoking will relapse within 12 months.
"We estimate that Niccine may have a considerable potential to prevent these relapses” said CEO Lena Degling Wikingsson in a statement.
The 400 testers will be offered help and support as they prepare to quit smoking. They will also be treated with anti-smoking drugs.
Once they have stopped smoking, the testers will receive a total of four injections at one-month intervals. Half the group will be injected with the vaccine while the remainder will receive an ineffective replacement substance.
Researchers will then keep track of the testers for a year to see if they manage to successfully stay off cigarettes.
The Niccine vaccine is intended to aid in the creation of long-lasting antibodies in the immune system. Researchers are hoping that the formation of a nicotine-antibody will prevents nicotine from reaching the brain to induce its rewarding effects.
Initially, Independent Pharmaceutica intends using the vaccine for relapse prevention but the company also believes that it may prove useful for smokers attempting to quit.