Wednesday April 24, 2019

Anti-smoking drug from nicotine-eating bacteria: Study

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New York: A bacterium that consumes nicotine may help scientists develop a powerful anti-smoking drug, says a study. 

The researchers found that the bacterial enzyme can be recreated in lab settings and possesses a number of promising characteristics for drug development.

“Our research is in the early phase of drug development process, but the study tells us the enzyme has the right properties to eventually become a successful therapeutic,” said one of the researchers Kim Janda, professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California.

The new research offers a possible alternative to current smoking cessation aids, which are shown to fail in at least 80 to 90 percent of smokers.

The idea behind an enzyme therapy would be to seek out and destroy nicotine before it reaches the brain — depriving a person of the “reward” of nicotine that can trigger relapse into smoking.

For more than 30 years, Janda and his colleagues have struggled to create such an enzyme in the lab, but they recently ran across a potential enzyme found in nature — NicA2 from the bacteria known as Pseudomonas putida.

It turns out this bacterium — originally isolated from soil in a tobacco field — consumes nicotine as its sole source of carbon and nitrogen.

In the new study, the researchers characterized the bacterial enzyme responsible for nicotine degradation and tested its potential usefulness as a therapeutic.

Importantly, the researchers detected no toxic metabolites produced when the enzyme degraded nicotine in the lab.

“The enzyme is also relatively stable in serum, which is important for a therapeutic candidate,” study first author Song Xue, graduate student at TSRI, said.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

(IANS)

 

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Many Teenagers are Unaware of the Nicotine Content Present in e-Cigarettes: Study

The research involved 517 adolescents, aged 12 to 21, who were questioned about their use of e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes and marijuana

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nicotine, e-cigarettes
FILE - A customer exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York, Feb. 20, 2014. VOA

A new study shows that many teenagers who use e-cigarettes do not understand the amount of addictive nicotine they are inhaling.

The study, published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that 40 percent of adolescents who believed they were only using nicotine-free products were actually vaping significant amounts of the substance. The research involved 517 adolescents, aged 12 to 21, who were questioned about their use of e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes and marijuana.

Researchers from Stony Brook University in New York state compared adolescents’ responses about their use of such substances against urine samples taken from the teenagers. They found that almost all of the respondents were honest about their substance use, however, they discovered the biggest discrepancy in the study came from teens who thought they were using nicotine-free e-cigarettes.

e-cigarette, nicotine
Customers puff at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. VOA

“Many of our participants were unaware of the nicotine content of the e-cigarette products they were using,” the researchers concluded.

Pros and cons

The study comes at a time when the popularity of e-cigarettes is on the rise and their use has become a divisive topic in the public health community.

Advocates for e-cigarettes say the products have the potential to shift lifelong smokers of traditional cigarettes onto less-harmful nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, while critics say that vaping risks bringing a new generation into nicotine addiction. Critics also point out that the health effects from the chemicals in e-cigarettes are not fully known.

e-cigarette, nicotine
The research involved 517 adolescents, aged 12 to 21, who were questioned about their use, traditional cigarettes and marijuana. Pixabay

It contains nicotine, which is addictive, but they do not contain tar or many of the other substances in traditional cigarettes, which make them deadly. Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor.

ALSO READ: Dumping Illegal Plastic Waste in Asia Leads to Killing of Crops and Causes Health Problems

Use among teens

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a plan to restrict sales of most flavored e-cigarettes at drug stores and gasoline stations in an attempt to keep them out of the hands of young people.

U.S. federal law bans the sale to anyone under 18 years of age. But a study published last year found that 1 in 5 high school students report using the devices — an activity known as vaping. (VOA)