At a glance: Swiss anti-smoking drug hits the headlines

What’s the brand name? At this stage it’s a product being tested, rather than a brand coming to market. But Zurich-based Cytos Biotechnology thinks it will successfully treat nicotine addiction and prevent ex-smokers slipping back into their so-called ‘antisocial’ ways.

Yes, but what's it called?
The name is, wait for it... CYT002-NicQb.

Not exactly snappy...
Maybe not the stuff of household names yet, no. But even with this
less-than-user-friendly moniker the drug has already been generating coverage. For example, the Daily Mail last week trumpeted it as an anti-smoking vaccine that could be available by 2010.

Who's handling PR for Cytos?
Claudine Blaser is director of corporate communications, while executive vice-president Jakob Schlapbach is handling investor relations. Christophe Lamps, partner at Geneva PR agency Rochat & Partners, is working with them.

What are the drug's big selling points?
Vaccination with CYT002-NicQb encourages antibodies that bind nicotine in the blood and reduce its absorption into the brain, thus reducing the stimulus that nicotine provides to smokers. The idea is that blocking nicotine to the brain will help people break their addiction to the stimulant in the long term.

How have trials gone?
This month Cytos says that in phase-two studies the drug promoted
a year of continuous abstinence in former nicotine addicts who
achieved high antibody levels upon vaccination – measured against participants in the study who received only counselling and a placebo. As a relatively small biotech company, Cytos is now searching for a larger pharma industry partner to continue trials and marketing.

Are there other anti-smoking products in the pipeline?
Pfizer's potential blockbuster smoking-cessation drug is being promoted by Chandler Chicco Agency. The as-yet unapproved drug promises to relieve nicotine cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms among smokers. British company Xenova, recently taken over by Celtic Pharma,also has a nicotine vaccine (called TA-NIC) in the early stages of development.

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