Smoking vaccine fails in clinical trial

Not two weeks after an experimental cocaine vaccine showed promise in helping drug addicts kick that habit, a report has been released showing that an anti-smoking vaccine has failed to reach its targets in a mid-stage study. In the year-long Phase II study, early indications showed the nicotine vaccine NIC002 couldn't achieve a statistically significant improvement in continuous abstinence from smoking in weeks 8 to 12 after the start of treatment, compared to a placebo.

Novartis (NVS), which bought the rights to the nicotine addiction vaccine from Swiss start-up Cytos Biotechnology in April 2007, will stay on-board for the duration of the trial, though the drug now seems unlikely to reach the market. Not only is the study result a blow to smokers hoping to quit; it's also a blow to Cytos, which saw its shares slammed in the Swiss market on Friday. Cytos is now unlikely to get its milestone payment from Novartis, leaving it to fend for itself. However, Cytos CEO Wolfgang Renner assured DailyFinance in an emailed statement that "The financing of our operations in the next two years are secured and are not affected by the latest results. So there are no immediate consequences from the newest result."