Promise of nicotinic‐based therapeutic treatments
Nicotine has a wide variety of pharmacological effects. Some of these, such as improved attentiveness and memory, quickened reaction time, reduced appetite, and lessening of stress can be viewed as beneficial and may partially underlie tobacco use. They also suggest therapeutic uses of nicotine. Like any drug, nicotine has adverse effects as well, such as convulsant actions and cardiovascular effects. Also, like a variety of therapeutic drugs from caffeine to codeine, nicotine has the adverse potential to become habit forming or addictive. Many of the health damaging effects of tobacco use, such as cancer and lung disease, seem to result from compounds present in tar. Eliminating the more than 4,000 different compounds present in tar goes a long way in reducing adverse effects associated with nicotine intake. When developing nicotine for therapeutic use, it is critical to determine the mechanisms of its actions so that its beneficial effects can be maximized and its adverse effects can be minimized. This might be achieved with alternate routes of delivery of nicotine such as the skin patch or with novel nicotinic ligands currently under development. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc. Copyright © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
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