Smokers could soon have access to an injectable vaccine to help them break the habit following a deal between GlaxoSmithKline and Nabi Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed the drug.
The NicVAX vaccine works by preventing nicotine in tobacco entering the brain, where it creates an addictive sensation of pleasure.
Trials have shown it can halve the number of people who return to smoking after trying to give up.
GSK will pay £24 million up front and as much as £296 million to Nabi as part of the deal which will give the company a leading edge in the lucrative smoking cessation market.
While a large number of products are currently available success rates for permanently giving up tobacco are varied.
Figures from the American Lung Association suggest that relapse rates among smokers are as high as 90 per cent within a year of quitting.
But the vaccine, which is injected, works by creating anti-bodies that bind to nicotine molecules, preventing them from passing the blood into the brain.
If successful the vaccine could help prevent millions of smoking related deaths around the world.
Jean Stephenne, president of GSK's Biologicals division said: "If approved this... technology could be a novel solution to help the millions of smokers who want to stop smoking and remain abstinent; a habit that is very well documented to be very hard to stop permanently." Source