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Synthetic Nicotine, Artificial Intelligence, and Other Innovations Transforming Smoking Cessation Interventions

Technology and innovation have always played a crucial role in advancing healthcare and improving patient outcomes. A previous post entitled ‘The Remarkable History of Cell and Gene Therapy’ illustrates how the process of transferring healthy, live cells to a patient to replace their damaged or dysfunctional ones has revolutionized treatment for chronic diseases like cancer. Meanwhile, gene therapies, which involve modifying or manipulating gene expression, are also continuously being developed to treat medical conditions like immunodeficiency and genetic vision loss.

Beyond disease treatment, technology is also being utilized in reducing the risk of preventable disease and mortality by managing one of its leading causes: cigarette smoking. While smoking rates have declined throughout the years, tobacco remains a prevailing health concern, as an estimated 22.3% of the global population are currently smokers. However, the following innovations have been helping individuals take a step closer to staying smoke-free and improving their overall health.

Synthetic nicotine in tobacco alternatives

Considering most of the adverse health effects come from the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke itself, smokers can use smoke-free alternatives to deliver nicotine into their bloodstream and ease cravings and withdrawals. While nicotine can be extracted from tobacco leaf or plant material, companies like SMOOD have started synthesizing nicotine in laboratories to lower the level of toxicants in their next-generation nicotine products. Consequently, SMOOD products like e-cigarettes can bring the same sensory experience as traditional cigarettes, except with fewer contaminants like tobacco alkaloids and metals.

The repetitive pharmaceutical processes involved in synthetic nicotine are also integrated into the production of emerging smokeless alternatives, such as oral pouches enjoyed for their discreet and fast-acting nicotine delivery. In the US, smokers are increasingly adopting LUCY nicotine pouches for reasons beyond their flavors like cinnamon, wintergreen, and mango that appeal to the American palate. Unlike other pouch brands that use tobacco-derived nicotine, LUCY pouches are 100% tobacco-free and have an enhanced nicotine and moisture formula — delivering a satisfying experience without needing nicotine at excessively high, addictive levels.

Artificial intelligence for tobacco cessation support

Besides pharmacological approaches that embrace synthetic nicotine, behavioral support can also ease smokers’ cessation journeys. Instead of in-person behavioral interventions like counseling and coaching, smokers can now interact with artificial intelligence on digital platforms to develop personalized quit plans, cope with smoking urges and triggers, and monitor their overall progress.

Research published in Digital Health notes that since conversational AI in chatbots and dialogue systems emulates human support and increases engagement, it can positively influence smoking cessation outcomes like sustained abstinence, whether self-reported or biochemically validated. AI is also being incorporated into smoking cessation apps like Quit Sense, which detects users’ location-based triggers to alert them and prevent relapses.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation for tobacco dependence treatment

Lastly, non-invasive therapies are also being explored to target specific parts of the brain involved in addiction to substances like tobacco. Since tobacco use and dependence can also alter smokers’ behaviors, a notable example is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which generates brief electric pulses and delivers them to selected brain areas for mood and behavior modification.

A World Psychiatry article published in 2021 found that by stimulating relevant brain circuits among smokers trying to quit, repetitive TMS can contribute to a 19.4% continuous quit rate (CQR) until 18 weeks. The reduction in cigarette consumption and cravings among participants can also be observed as early as two weeks into repetitive TMS treatment.

Overall, these innovations demonstrate the potential of integrating technology into smoking cessation and tobacco dependence treatment for enhanced success rates and health outcomes. If you're interested in learning more about scientific and technological breakthroughs across medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and health, explore the IntuitiveX website for its blog posts, case studies, and offerings as a life sciences catalyst and innovation partner.