Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 04:51 PM EDT

Anti-smoking bacteria found to eat nicotine

Aug 13, 2015 07:32 PM EDT

Quitting Smoking
(Photo : Henrik Jensen/Flickr)

Scientists discover anti-smoking bacteria that eat nicotine before it reaches the brain, Medical News reports.

Those who want to quit smoking but are desperate have now the hope of succeeding! The findings of the research conducted by a team at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) could be the effective solution to win the fight against smoking. The study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, was led by Kim Janda, a chemistry professor and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI. However, Janda believes it is still too early to claim that their study is 100 helpful for smoking cessation.

"Our research is in the early phase of the drug development process, but the study tells us the enzyme has the right properties to eventually become a successful therapeutic," she said.

The bacteria being study is called Pseudomas putida. They are usually found in tobacco fields and consume nicotine before they reach the brain. The enzyme could be the key in helping smokers quit the habit.

While the study is still in its nascent stage, Janda and her team that their study has great potential of becoming a successful therapy in curbing smoking addiction. Janda also revealed that she and her team have been trying to develop the enzyme NicA2 until they succeeded in extracting the enzyme from bacterium Pseudomonas plutida.

The researchers found that the enzyme caused the nicotine's half-life to drop to 9-15 minutes from 2-3 hours after they adding the enzyme to the bloodstream.

"The bacterium is like Pac-man," Janda compares. "It goes along and eat nicotine."

But what is even greater is that no excess, toxic metabolites after produced after the nicotine is degraded.

"The enzyme is also relatively stable in serum, which is important for a therapeutic candidate," said Song Xue, a graduate student at and the study's principal author, said.

Janda's next project is to change the enzyme's bacterial setting so to eliminate whatever immune liabilities it has and make the most of its therapeutic potentials.

"Hopefully we can improve its serum stability with our future studies so that a single injection may last up to a month," Xue said.

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