A 'genetic cure' that stimulates they body into making antibodies against nicotine could help millions stuggling with their cigarette addiction, say researchers.
The gene vaccine has only been tested on mice so far, but the results have been so positive that research on human subjects could begin in as little as two years. The jab could ward off nicotine cravings for life and may even be used on children to stop them developing the habit.
The process, being tested at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, uses genes which trick the liver into continuously making antibodies that neutralise nicotine before it reaches the brain. The theory is that if people get no pleasureable feelings from smoking then it will make it easier for them to quit.
"This novel vaccine may offer a much-needed solution," said lead researcher Dr Ronald Crystal to the Daily Mail.
The study is still in its early stages and the jab is at least five years from the market.
If proved to be effective and safe, the treatment could be included in school vaccination programmes to prevent children from ever taking up the habit, added Dr Crystal.