Nicotine als medicijn
Alzheimer, Parkinson, Schizofrenie, ADHD, hersenafwijkingen en misschien nog veel meer ziektes zullen in de toekomst met nicotine behandeld worden. Een uitgebreid team van onderzoekers op de Mayo Clinic is bezig om alle positieve kanten van nicotine te onderzoeken. Hoewel het klein begon is het team steeds groter geworden vanwege de onverwacht positieve resultaten van het onderzoek.
Overheid én tabaksindustrie (!) financieren het onderzoek….
Rising from the Ashes
Nicotine is trying quite hard to make a comeback. Not in cigarettes, but in many other ways. Scientific hopes are that it will — when reformulated and re-engineered as a medical tool — prove effective in the treatment of schizophrenia, brain disease, Alzheimer’s, and perhaps even against a whole host of other serious illnesses. Since the early 1990’s, a top level research team at the Mayo Clinic has concentrated on searching for possible therapeutic good in nicotine. What started as a series of small studies has grown into a major research effort supported by both tax dollars, plus additional grants from the federal government and the tobacco industry.
That’s only one targeted effort. Current reports are that the feds, at least six pharmaceutical companies and over twenty private researchers are at work looking for effective nicotine-based medicines. Best current guess is that at least one of these perhaps-miracle drugs will make it to market within a few years.
It won’t really be “the first” though. Initial breakthrough really happened back in 1991 when the FDA approved the nicotine patch, good nicotine to fight bad nicotine. It is still the one and only medically-approved nicotine-based product. Now research seems to point to the fact that small-to-moderate doses of nicotine may do more good and little bad. The secret seems to be twofold.
First to reformulate the nicotine molecule to make it non-addictive. And secondly, to eliminate “burning”. Burning, as in cigarettes, releases the tars and carbons that resulted in an inordinate number of cases of cancer and heart disease. All this evil apparently vanishes when you turn it into a drug or use it as a patch.
Early results seem to say that nicotine may have major potential as an early-stage Alzheimer’s fighter, if it is used with patients still in the “mild cognitive impairment” stage, at some level preventing the formation of the harmful protein plaques that cause all the serious damage. The National Institute of Aging recently presented a $1.5 million grant to Dr. Paul Newhouse, Director of Clinical Neuroscience Research at the University of Vermont to do advanced studies on this premise.
Dr. Newhouse thinks this is just a starting point. He recently announced that an early-stage tests seemed to show that nicotine patches helped improve concentration of teenagers with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Is there a real future in nicotine-based patches and other products? At least one of the major cigarette companies thinks so; Targacept is a small but growing biotech company almost solely devoted to nicotine research. The company was first formulated as a research unit in the laboratories of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.