The Checkup: Lab Study Shows Promise for Smoking Vaccine

A new study involving mice shows that a nicotine vaccine could help smokers quit.

• If only smoking was as easy to quit as it was to begin. New research on a vaccine-like gene therapy shows that someday it could be. Using lab mice, a team in New York City conducted a study to see if they could find a way to prevent nicotine from reaching its target in the brain. They injected the mice with a gene that produces nicotine antibodies, which was then replicated in the animals’ livers. “Once produced, the antibody connected with nicotine, trapping it and preventing it from making its way to the brain, where it would otherwise have caused the pleasurable, addictive effects it is so known for,” reports the Los Angeles Times. So just how effective was it? The mice that received the vaccine showed a 47-fold (!) drop in nicotine levels in their blood compared to ones who didn’t get it, which … is pretty darn amazing. While we’re still a long way off from the day such treatment is ready for humans, it sound promising. My lungs are happier already.

• Here’s something awesome that is ready for humans: an at-home HIV test, just approved by the FDA. The mouth swab can tell people if they’re HIV positive or negative in just 20 minutes. And it’s pretty accurate, too.

• A new Pennsylvania law aimed at decreasing head injuries in school-age athletes went into effect earlier this week. It compels coaches, parents and caregivers to respond immediately to kids with suspected concussions, and levies penalties against those who don’t. Read about the Safety in Youth Sports Act at