Is tobacco the unlikely Alzheimer's cure?

Star Scientific is developing CigRx, a nicotene-based compound that could help reduce brain inflamation and fight the disease

By InvestorPlace Mar 1, 2011 11:27AM

Image: Businesswoman (© Roy McMahon/Corbis)By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com


When you think about the tobacco industry, most folks probably don’t get a very good taste in their mouth. Investors think of massive lawsuits, steadily increasing taxes on cigarettes and dwindling smoker statistics choking off profits. And the general public thinks of lung cancer and that stale smell of Uncle Mickey’s jacket that infects the entire closet every time he visits for Thanksgiving.


But if tobacco stock Star Scientific (CIGX) has its way, the public could have a very different perception of tobacco in the future.


Namely, as the plant that cured Alzheimer’s.


So why haven’t you heard of this development? Well, because the results are preliminary and Star Scientific is burying its study on the potential cure in legalese and confusing press releases. As the pithy investor and journalist James Altucher wrote on Seeking Alpha, the latest press release from Star looked "looks like guys who got their law degree in some outpost of Antarctica wrote it."


Post continues after video:

But here are the details: Star  Scientific isolated a compound from nicotine, anatabine, that is a potential Alzheimer's treatment. After much hype, the  neurological research mecca Roskamp Institute will finally begin human trials with the antabine compound (cleverly named CigRx, patented by Star Scientific and distributed by Inventiv). It will complete the study after three months.


To temper expectations, this is just the first step in a long process for any approval of an Alzheimer’s treatment. The study at Roskamp will focus on “inflammation,” and the theory appears to be that if chronic inflammation can be controlled or prevented then there is potential to fight the ravages of Alzheimer’s. Many medical experts suspect chronic inflammation is behind not just Alzheimer's but also cancer, heart disease and other serious ailments. Then even if the study is conclusive, there is a long process of refinement and further studies before any FDA approval that brings a cure or treatment to the general public.


But this is not just a pipe dream. A Roskamp article indicates that CigRx and antabine have already been linked to lower inflammation on human brain tissue – more so than the much lauded cholesterol maintentance drug Lipitor from Pfizer (PFE). Granted, Lipitor is not formulated for neurological health but for cardiac health, but the comparison indicates Star Scientific is moving in the right direction. If inflammation of the brain is, in fact, a big cause of Alzheimer’s symptoms and progression of the illness, then this could prove a crucial first step.

Will the Alzheimer’s “cure” come to fruition? That’s still a big unknown. But in November the CEO of Star, Jonnie Williams, purchased a massive 717,220 shares of his own stock at a little under $2 a share. In the last six months, insiders have bought 4.13 million shares of Star Scientific.


That seems to indicate that the company has a lot of faith in its own leadership and product pipeline.


Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.


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27Comments
Mar 1, 2011 2:02PM
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Most of you either don't read well or just don't want to be open minded to research, because the article does not say they are smoking them to cure Alzheimer's it says they are extracting a chemical from it.  Tobacco is not a bad plant it wht the big companies add to it that makes it extremely harmful.
Mar 1, 2011 1:48PM
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Ddi the article say smoking curesAlzheimer's? NO....IT DID NOT. Please read the article before posting. Nicotene is used by the tobacco plant to deter bugs from eating it. The fact that it is highly addictive to humans and the source of manipuation by big tobacco companies is somewhat beside the point. People need to open their minds a bit to the fact that like any powerful plant based compound.....it can have positive and negative uses.
Mar 1, 2011 2:04PM
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First off, cigarette smoke contains thousands of compounds.  Antabine is just one of them.  IF antabine turns out to be a legitimate treatment for alzheimer's, I guarantee you that doctors will not prescribe cigarettes.  The concentration of antabine reaching the brain would likely be far too low to have any effect.  It would be like taking a crumb of aspirin and expecting your headache to go away.  More importantly this does not change the fact that there are still 50+ known carcinogens in cigarette smoke.  It'd be like taking an aspirin and washing it down with poison.  Tobacco is not the cure, a component found IN tobacco is possibly the cure.   This is why the compound would have to be isolated from the carcinogens in order for it to ever be approved as a medication. 
Mar 1, 2011 1:20PM
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Next thing that may be discovered is that tobacco could be the cure some types of cancer.
Mar 1, 2011 1:52PM
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People have criticized medical ideas for years and it seems to never actually help. The vaccine for smallpox was found by a guy who thought you could get it from the cowpox disease. Not many people believed it, and they criticized it, which caused thousands of more deaths in Britain. Maybe we should do more research on these ideas rather than criticizing it right away. It would be better to try out different ideas and see if they work or not. How do you think bands and tribes stay healthy in the rainforest? Experiments with different plants for cures of diseases and the ideas are passed down. That might be why they have the cure for diabetes and we don't.
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Somebody out there thinks Americans are stupid!  This was published years ago.  The warning told us then that Nicotene was eventually going to be used to treat Alzheimer patients, obesity, and depression.  The article went on the say that when drug companies want to market something, eventually, THEY get it.  Yeah, it took a while, but they did get it.  And so the truth about nicotene is, it's more beneficial ( and more profitable) as a Rx drug.  Now to get rid of all those folks who get theirs for about $5.00 a pack and give them a bottle of pills for $50. Bottom line is,  addiction is not the problem, profit margins are!  How well propaganda works for the US.

Mar 1, 2011 2:44PM
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Didn't the article read that the tobacco contains one component that may relate to the cure.  Not the whole tobacco leaf.

Mar 1, 2011 5:53PM
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Did anyone read the article? No one said Anything about smoking curing Alzheimer's. A compound found in nicotine is what they are testing. And why? TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION! Why people choose to be ignorant is beyond me. I am a nurse and deal with Alzheimer's disease on a daily basis. Why wouldn't we want to research something that might eradicate this vile disease?  All of you out there that are against the testing just might think differently if you or a loved one had the disease and was told there wasn't any hope.
Mar 1, 2011 1:41PM
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I have heard this before, seems simple enough to verify.  If I had someone with the symptoms they would be chewing nicoret gum.   I wonder why modern medicine always concentrates on fixing the symptoms and not on finding the cure?  Oh yah, if you cure a disease then your market dries up, hmmm.   I guess all that matters is the bottom line, once again.  Think they'll find a cure for cancer?
Mar 1, 2011 1:38PM
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REALLY?  My Mom passed in 2008 from Alzheimer's...she smoked a minimum of 1/1/2 packs a day for over 50 years!  The reality is they need to find what causes the Inflammation and stop that!  It is all about the money folks and the control of the Big Pharma!  There are natural products out there that are being studied and are available now!  They show promise and I wish I had known about them.  Go to pubmed.gov and search for Xanthones + inflammation.  Or search Mayo Clinic study of inflammation!  Educate yourselves and don't let the BIG guys sway your search.
Mar 1, 2011 1:26PM
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just goes to show ya....they haven't got a clue what is good for ya and what might kill ya...looking like another thing to pump up the bottom line.

Mar 1, 2011 2:20PM
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Assuming that clinical trials bear fruit, tobacco growers get subsidies for providing the raw material. Then marijuana growers would also be entitled to the same, and the longstanding conflict between the Feds and California (where I live) regarding drug laws would have to be reconciled.
Mar 10, 2011 11:26AM
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CigRx is a smoking alternative dietary supplement, and the reviews on both the site and the product facebook page speak for themselves.

 

Nowhere on either site is Alzheimer's even mentioned.  Take a look at what the product is actually being used for, and how it is being marketed before throwing slings that "the company is claiming to have cured Alzheimer's with cigarettes." It is hard to argue against the product, and what it has been developed to actually do.

Mar 1, 2011 5:42PM
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C'mon...get a grip.... The evidence shows that Marijuana is WAY more harmful than tobacco use...It just so happens that there are enough people in the mainstream that are MJ users to find a way to validate it's use through 'medical marijuana' clinics.. A simple ploy to legalize a recreational drug....Leave tobacco alone and let people use it if they wish...If they happen to find it has some actual benefit, then all the better...
Mar 1, 2011 1:33PM
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Now maybe we can re-think designated smoking areas. This whole thing is a joke. Moderation people moderation!
Mar 1, 2011 1:44PM
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Research recently noted that glutathione, the antioxidant that the body makes in each cell, is depleted permanently by cigarette smoke.  If these people have isolated an anti-inflammatory from tobacco, leaving the other bad components aside, it could be beneficial.  Yet it is not a natural solution that I would want to use in my own body.  I prefer ingesting the direct precursors for glutathione.  They have helped me overcome diabetes and fibromyalgia. 

Since glutathione is the key antioxidant for the brain (vitamin E and E don't cross the blood brain barrier), I would think resolving glutathione deficiency would be a better cure and preventative!  (Most people lose glutathione as we age - in part due to "natural aging", poor nutrition and our toxic environment.)  I have seem direct improvement for Alzheimer's in both individuals and research via glutathione precursor supplementation.
Mar 1, 2011 1:33PM
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Seems to me the most logical thing would be to eliminate the cause of the inflammation!

Cigarettes are on of the causes of oxidative stress that causes inflammation.  So is polution and our poor food supply.

Turns out that if we ate the proper foods, our body would be able to baturally mitigate the oxidative stress and resulting inflammation via the antioxidant that it manufactures itself from our food supply - glutathione.

Unfortunately we can''t just take glutathione as a supplement as it breaks down in our digestive system.  We need to ingest the natural precursors to allow our body to build it naturally.

Low levels of glutathione are associated with almost every known illness.  Conversely high levels are associated with a long and healthy life.

Raw milk is one source for these precursors, but they won't let us drink raw milk.  In fact, there are many sources, but most are destroyed by processing, cooking and other "protective measures" due to m****duction.  Our nutritionally depleted soils and junk foods add to the confusion.

The body knows how to mitigate illness!  We just need to feed it properly!

Mar 1, 2011 10:59PM
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For angrygirl1886  I have read the article and I find you may need to understand the lives of all affected.  The research needs to be done, that is without saying.  But to criticize or call us ignorant is beneath the pale.  

Whenever these articles are published just for the sake of getting it said, is not a test.  I am one of those who have a loved one with this disease and if you are a nurse, you of all people, should know that to give false hope to the loved ones is cruel.  Until a breakthrough is reached, these maybe, might, could be, articles should be viewed as they are.  They are in my opinion, just garbage.
Aug 9, 2012 3:19AM
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The research is about a single nutraceutical compound found in tobacco called anatabine. Is has nothing to do with nicotine or the tars also found in tobacco. Anatabine, according to peer reviewed research, apparently does reduce inflamation. You don't smoke it. Some other nutraceuticals that have proven to be effective are; quinine derived from chinchona bark and penicillin derived from bread mold to  name just two. I would keep an open mind until the trials are done.
Mar 1, 2011 5:44PM
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I would like to see this stopped.  Could be, might be, maybe, someday, help.  For those of use living with and caring for loved ones with this devastating disease those are false hopes.  I am not sorry for posting this, but when you walk in the shoes, then you will know why this is unjust to those of us who are walking this long path.  Don't give false hopes, it is so unfair.
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