New Vaccine Created to Help Smokers Stop Smoking

December 13, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. vaccine (n.) [vak-seenvak-seen, -sin] – something that is injected into a person to prevent them from getting sick
Example: School children should receive flu vaccines once a year.

2. addictive (adj.) [uh-dik-tiv] – causing a person to want or need a substance or activity regularly
Example: People taking cocaine cannot live without it because cocaine is highly addictive.

3. molecule (n.) [mol-uh-kyool] – the smallest part of a substance
Example: Water molecules cannot be seen with the naked eye.

4. kick the habit (idiom) [kik the hab-it]– to stop doing something that one has been doing regularly
Example: Office workers need to kick the habit of drinking too much coffee every day.

5. temporary (adj.) [tem-puh-rer-ee] – lasts or continues for a short time only, not permanent
Example: Some medicines help stop the patient from feeling pain, but their effect is temporary.

Read the text below.

A new vaccine that will help smokers deal with the addictive effects of nicotine in cigarettes has been developed by researchers in New York’s Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The vaccine contains genetically engineered “nicotine antibodies."  Antibodies are molecules that attach themselves to harmful substances in the body. Antibodies then destroy the harmful substances or make them harmless.

The vaccine carries nicotine antibodies directly to the liver, where the antibodies genetically combine with liver cells, causing liver cells to start producing other nicotine antibodies of their own. In other words, the liver is used as a factory for making more nicotine antibodies. These antibodies search for nicotine molecules in the blood and destroy them before they reach the smoker’s brain or heart. As such, smokers would not feel enjoyment from smoking.

Other kinds of treatments have been designed to help smokers kick the habit; but none of the previous treatments offer lifetime protection against nicotine’s addictive effects.

Available nicotine vaccines and medicines are expensive because their effects are temporary, meaning patients have to keep getting injections or keep buying medication. Moreover, the treatments are not always effective.

So far, the new vaccine has only been tested on mice and more tests are needed before it will be available for humans.

Professor Ronald Crystal, the chairman of Genetic Medicine in Weill Cornell Medical Center, believes the vaccine may someday be used by parents who wish to prevent their children from getting into the smoking habit.

Doctors, however, warn that people should try other treatments first before getting a vaccine that causes big genetic changes to the body.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think that smoking is a big problem? Why or why not?
·         Do people really need medical treatment to stop smoking? How can people stop themselves or others from smoking?

Discussion B

·         What other activity or hobby do you find addictive? (Food, shopping, working, exercising, etc.) Why is it addictive?
·         Is addiction always a negative thing? Why do you think so?


December 13, 2012