Bacteria could help quit smoking

There are many methods for quitting smoking, from the medicinal to the holistic. Now there is research that suggests a certain bacterial enzyme could help people to quit smoking. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) are looking into ways this enzyme can be harnessed and used as a quit smoking aid.

So far, TSRI has discovered that at the very least, they can reproduce the enzyme in a lab for further testing and exploration. The bacteria, called Pseudomonas putida, produces an enzyme that is capable of finding and destroying nicotine cells before they reach the brain, thus taking away the brain’s feeling of “reward” that comes from puffing on a cigarette. When testing the enzyme with mice blood and nicotine (which sounds like the kind of thing you’d use in a voodoo spell), they found that the half-life, or the time it took the cells to decay, was reduced from 2 – 3 hours to about 9 minutes.

In a report published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers wrote that harnessing the enzyme could lead to “a new avenue for the field of addiction therapy.”

Kim Janda, a researcher at TSRI said the bacterium is like “a little Pac-man. It goes along and eats the nicotine.” An inner Pac-man that can stop a person from smoking cigarettes? Sounds great to us.