Friday, March 14, 2014

Industrial Ways To Use Nicotine

Companies are working to find uses for nicotine found in tobacco, other than cigarettes.

Nicotine is a substance found in tobacco, which has been traditionally used in one manner: the production and use of cigarettes and cigars for personal consumption. Nicotine has been identified as harmful, causing diseases such as cancer. Industry is now looking for ways to use nicotine in non-traditional manners, in an attempt to identify its beneficial properties.


Nicotine is an addictive substance, according to the American Heart Association. It causes changes in the brain that make the user want more nicotine. It also increases the risk of heart attack and cancer, among other effects. The pleasures from its initial use, and the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, all make nicotine addictive. But can nicotine have positive uses in industrial, or commercial, settings that would be beneficial to society?


The function of nicotine in tobacco is to affect the brain, with side effects on the heart and lungs, plus addiction. Those functions on the brain could have some benefit in industrial uses. The problem is to use nicotine in a positive way, without the addictive qualities, and without the negative effect on health.

Medical Use

Research in the medical uses of nicotine is focusing on the beneficial effects of nicotine on the brain. According to Join Together, development is ongoing for a wide range of drugs that use nicotine as their main ingredient. These drugs are focusing on such conditions as depression, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and schizophrenia. One company that is working on these drugs is Targacept, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Their products are based upon nicotine's effect on neuronal nicotinic receptors (NNRs), which regulate central nervous system activity. Their products are designed to provide therapeutic effects without the side effects of nicotine.


The use of nicotine in medicines is in the research phase, focusing on NNRs, as outlined at Targacept. These receptors affect memory, attention, mood, inflammation, movement, and cell survival. In a normal brain the body regulates these receptors with acetylcholine (ACh), but in certain people ACh does not work, hence the need for a drug to replace ACh. Nicotine has been shown to work, and the key to the research is to develop a drug using nicotine, less the known side effects.

Commercial Uses

As of 2010, a company in India, BGP Group of Companies is developing many commercial products that are nicotine-based. These products range from insecticides, for use in fruit and vegetable gardens, to products that help people stop smoking. The company is also exploring other potential uses, including medical uses and industrial uses.

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