Cocaine Vaccine Stops Drug High Dead in Its Tracks

January 4, 2011

(ChattahBox Health News)—Cocaine works by stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain, and is the most potent stimulant of natural origin. It’s also highly addictive and has destroyed countless lives, as evidenced by the large numbers of addicts locked away in our prisons. But there is hope. A team of scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health has developed a first-of-a-kind vaccine to overcome cocaine addiction. The early tests results on mice have been so encouraging that researchers expect the vaccine to be tested on humans very soon. And the vaccine that successfully produces an antibody immune response to cocaine may also cure other addictions.

The team of researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University in Ithaca, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., used a novel approach in creating the vaccine, by binding a cocaine analog to the immune response component of a common cold virus. The vaccine generated antibodies in the mice that blocked the cocaine analog from reaching the brain.

Lead researcher Dr. Ronald G. Crystal sees great potential for the vaccine in combating human drug addictions.

“The novelty of this possible treatment is that it hooks a chemical that is very similar in structure to cocaine, onto components of the adenovirus, a common cold virus. In this way, the human immune system is alerted to an infectious agent (the virus) but also learns to “see” the cocaine as an intruder as well, Dr. Crystal says. Once the structure of the new intruder is recognized, natural immunity builds to cocaine particles, so any time cocaine is snorted or used in any way, antibodies to the substance are quickly produced and the cocaine molecules are engulfed by the antibodies and prevented from reaching the brain.”

The NIH study was published in the online journal of Molecular Therapy.

Photo Source: Wikimedia/crack spoon/Korwin/Creative Commons Attribution.


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