NEW YORK (Jan. 4, 2011) Researchers have produced a lasting anti-cocaine immunity in mice by giving them a safe vaccine that combines bits of the common cold virus with a particle that mimics cocaine.
In their study, published Jan. 4 in the online edition of Molecular Therapy and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the researchers say this novel strategy might be the first to offer cocaine addicts a fairly simple way to break and reverse their habit, and it might also be useful in treating other addictions, such as to nicotine, heroin and other opiates.
"Our very dramatic data shows that we can protect mice against the effects of cocaine, and we think this approach could be very promising in fighting addiction in humans," says the study's lead investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
He says the antibody immune response produced in lab mice by the vaccine binds to, and sequesters, cocaine molecules before the drug reached the brains of these animals and prevents any cocaine-related hyperactivity. The vaccine effect lasted for at least 13 weeks, the longest time point evaluated.
"While other attempts at producing immunity against cocaine have been tried, this is the first that will likely not require multiple, expensive infusions, and that can move quickly into human trials," Dr. Crystal says. "There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine for any drug addiction."
"An approach that works is desperately needed for cocaine addiction, which is an intransigent problem worldwide," he adds. "There are no therapies now."
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" t
|Contact: John Rodgers|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College