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Vaccines against addiction, obesity, may be coming soon

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Researchers are getting unexpectedly close to vaccines that would block the effects of an addict's substance of choice — nicotine for smokers, cocaine for coke addicts, certain hunger hormones in the obese, etc. "We view this as an alternative or better way for some people," said Dr. Kim D. Janda, who has been working on the vaccines for several decades. "Just like with nicotine patches and the gum, all those things are just systems to get people off the drugs."

"It's very fashionable now," he added. "When we started doing this twenty-seven years ago, it wasn't." If successful, the vaccines would act like vaccines against other medical conditions, training a person's immune system to create antibodies that would attack the substance in question. For instance, subjects who had tested Janda's cocaine vaccine reported feeling that they were using "dirty coke" post-vaccine, and "felt like they were wasting their money."

But don't expect to go out tomorrow and get all set up with that anti-booze shot I know you've been craving — the research process has been fraught with setbacks (including minimal FDA support), and Janda has found alcohol and marijuana particularly difficult to formulate vaccines for. Still, if successful, the research could be a major breakthrough in addiction treatment, and colleagues are already calling Janda a "visionary."

If vaccines against vices manage to truly get off the ground, then we'll know for certain that we are living in the future.