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May 30, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- RESEARCHERS DEVELOP NICOTINE VACCINE

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have designed a new way to make vaccines that might be used to help people addicted to nicotine. They say the vaccine they created induces the body to clear out the addictive chemical. "These new vaccines greatly suppress the reinforcing aspects of the drug," says principal investigator Kim Janda. "Blocking it before it gets to the brain -- that's the key." The structure and design of the nicotine vaccine are described in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Having shown the vaccine's effectiveness in laboratory models, Michael Meijler and Janda have reformulated it for human trials. Eventually, such a vaccine would be given to people undergoing smoking cessation programs, they said. Some smoking cessation strategies provide cigarette addicts with nicotine from sources other than tobacco, such as patches or gum. Janda and team have taken an "immunopharmacotherapy" approach. They designed a drug that stimulates the immune system to clear the nicotine from the system. They based their work on previous work Janda conducted, developing a vaccine for another addictive drug, cocaine, which is currently in clinical trials.


Researchers have found the drug abciximab may bust stubborn clots that reappear in stroke patients, increasing risk of death and disability. Reporting in the journal Neurology, the scientists say they studied 18 patients who successfully underwent thrombolytic treatment for stroke caused by blood clots or other blockages of arteries leading to the brain. In four of the patients, blood clots formed again within 20 minutes after the arteries were clear. Those four were given abciximab, a blood-thinner that prevents blood particles known as platelets from clumping to form clots. The drug broke up the clots in all four patients. Three of them experienced a lessening in stroke-related symptoms. "After major strokes and severe clinical deficits, these patients had dramatic improvements," said study author Dr. Ji Hoe Heo, a neurologist at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. "Two had no symptoms, and one had minor symptoms that did not interfere with his lifestyle. All three fully regained their previous activities and jobs."


Research indicates eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as oranges or broccoli, may help protect skin against the ravaging effects of the sun's rays. Studies indicate vitamins and carotenoids in such foods may help protect skin from damage caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays, which can lead to potentially deadly skin cancer. Some 1 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, health experts say. Researchers say consuming antioxidant-rich foods -- such as oranges, apricots, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, garlic -- may help guard against UV radiation, which, if not blocked, can penetrate deep into the skin. There, it generates free radicals which can interfere with the disease-fighting immune system. One antioxidant is tomato lycopene, a carotenoid in the same family as beta carotene, scientists say. Foods rich in lycopene include tomatoes, tomato sauce, catsup and tomato juice. "The human body does not produce lycopene on its own, so it is vital that people be conscious of eating a lycopene-rich diet, or taking an all-natural supplement, " says Dr. Michael Aviram, head of the Lipid Research Laboratory at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. Doctors recommend consumption of 3 to 7 milligrams of lycopene daily, or the equivalent of about seven tomato-rich meals a week. For those who fail to get sufficient amounts in the diet, researchers in Israel have developed a supplement, called Lyc-O-Mat, which can be purchased in health food stores, among other outlets.


Experts caution child care givers about the potentially deadly dangers of leaving youngsters unattended in a car. Health and safety experts warn children locked inside cars can die of heat stroke, as happens in some 25 cases each year. Dr. Elaine Pomeranz, medical director for the Child Protection Team at the University of Michigan Health System, says heat exhaustion and heat stroke can strike quickly in enclosed vehicles. And the same can be said of hypothermia in cold weather, she added. A recent General Motors and SAFE KIDS Coalition study found children are more vulnerable to heat because a child's body temperature increases three to five times faster than that of an adult. When it is 93 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside a car can exceed 125 degrees in about 20 minutes. Infants who are ill or have other predisposed health conditions are especially vulnerable, but even healthy infants are at high risk when left in a hot car, doctors say. The child's skin become red and dry, and he is unable to produce sweat to reduce the core body temperature. The heart rate quicken, and the child becomes confused and loses consciousness. Then, the system shuts down. "Cracking" the windows is not an answer, Pomeranz said. Pomeranz advises care givers to seek emergency medical attention if a child has been exposed to high temperatures in an enclosed vehicle.

(EDITORS: For more information about NICOTINE, contact Jason Bardi at 858-784-9254 or; about CLOTS, contact Kathy Stone at 651-695-2763 or; about CHILDREN, call 734-764-2220; about SUN, contact Gail Anderson at

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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