Four years ago, the startup Nabi Biopharmaceuticals began testing a promising nicotine vaccine called NicVax with the aid of $4.1 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Earlier today, the vaccine received a booster shot: Nabi signed a $540 million licensing deal with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline and is starting Phase III clinical trials.
On October 29, Nabi announced late stage Phase II trials, which established the safety of the vaccine. Now, with GSK’s support, the company will begin Phase III trials, which will evaluate how effective NicVAX is at helping patients quit smoking. It may be years before the vaccine is commercially available. But so far, studies indicate NicVAX is well tolerated in humans, and Nabi says a statistically significant portion of the hundreds of patients who have tried the vaccine stayed cigarette-free for up to a year.