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Addiction vaccine could soon be a reality

October 9, 2011 8:19:43 PM PDT
Some of the best medical minds in the country are working on a vaccine to help people kick a disease that often lasts a lifetime and ends in death.

They're working on a cure-all to addiction.

A shot that would stop a life of smoking, drinking or drugs before it starts.

"I have a husband who is an alcoholic and so if he could get a shot of something that would get him to stop drinking, that would be great (laughs)," Valois Mickens said.

Mickens laughs, but knows her husband's 20 year alcohol addiction is not a joke.

Her 25-year-old son is also a smoker.

"Once you're an addict you're a lifetime addict. If you can take a shot of something to get it to stop, that's great," Mickens said.

Mickens is eager to learn more about a simple vaccine that could cure nicotine, alcohol and cocaine addiction.

Maybe even obesity.

"So what we do is basically make a cocktail such that we can trick the immune system into recognizing something like cocaine or heroin as being foreign and the immune system will attack it as something foreign and basically remove it," Dr. Kim D. Janda from the Scripps Research Institute said.

We spoke to Dr. Kim Janda, a professor for the Scripps Institute via Skype in San Diego.

He's been working on the addiction vaccine for the last 25 years.

"The main problem has been trying to get a vaccine which works in all humans. Though some of these vaccines only work in about 30 percent of the people," Dr. Janda said.

Dr. Janda hopes to finally get FDA approval within the next three to five years. Then he plans to make the addiction vaccine affordable and available to everyone.

So for those with addictions, like Felix Baez, who has tried everything to quit smoking, "I've tried the patches, I've tried the gum, I've tried cold turkey and nothing," Baez said.

To those who treat addictions like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chair of psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brookln, it's a great idea.

"I think it's a terrific idea and we would probably be further along right now with a vaccine that worked if vaccines were more profitable," Dr. Kolodny said.

This vaccine can't come soon enough.

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