By Janet Fang
Posting in Healthcare
Using a vaccine that combines the common cold virus with particles that mimic cocaine, researchers have produced a lasting immunity against cocaine high in mice.
Using a vaccine that combines the common cold virus with particles that mimic cocaine, researchers have created a lasting immunity against cocaine high in mice.
"There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine for any drug addiction,” says lead investigator Ronald Crystal from Weill Cornell Medical College. "We can protect mice against the effects of cocaine, and we think this approach could be very promising in fighting addiction in humans."
The antibody immune response produced by the vaccine binds to, and sequesters, cocaine molecules before the drug reaches the mouse brains. This prevents any cocaine-related hyperactivity.
The treatment hooks a chemical similar in structure to cocaine onto components of the common cold virus. The immune system is alerted to an infectious agent and learns to view the cocaine as an intruder as well. 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 [Weill Cornell release].
"An immune response will destroy the drug before it reaches the brain's pleasure center,” Crystal says. Mice that received the vaccine before cocaine were much less hyperactive while on the drug than mice that were not vaccinated. Its effect lasted for at least 13 weeks.
The vaccine is poised to move quickly into human trials, and the researchers say that the approach could also stop addiction to other drugs, like heroin and nicotine.
But even if the vaccine passes muster in human studies, it won't be a panacea for addiction. Time explains:
Addicts could try to overcome the immunological blockade by increasing their drug intake, leading to dangerous overdoses. What's more, not every immune system reacts to every vaccine in the same way — particularly among people who are immune-compromised. Finally, killing the cocaine buzz does not do anything for the underlying psychology of addiction, and addicts are nothing if not resourceful; there are a lot of addictive substances out there, any of which could be substituted for the no-longer effective drug. Talk therapy, support groups and similar treatments are thus likely to continue to be part of any successful recovery.
Image: US Drug Enforcement Administration
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Researchers announce vaccine for cocaine addiction; turns body against drug
- Economics of addiction and health reform
Jan 5, 2011
The antibody protection response created by the vaccine maintains to, and sequesters, medication components before the medication gets to the bunny thoughts.http://www.nrlawgroup.com
The article mentioned a similar vaccine might work against heroin and presumably other opiates. What if sometime later that person gets a chronic painful disease? Opiates can have important legitimate uses. Denying someone the possibility of pain management is almost like torture.
If you gave the vaccine to a person before he or she first tried cocaine, it might serve to protect people from getting addicted in the first place. If so, could you force everybody to take the vaccine? On the one hand, it could effectively kill the drug trade beyond current addicts. Given the "turnover" in addicts, after a few years the illegal drug trade would mostly dry up. On the other hand, there's a strong moral argument against forcing someone to engage in a medical procedure that may be against their will.
This drug will never happen! Far too many third world ecomomies depend on the revenues from the importation and distribution ofillegal drugs. Sad to say however in some countries illegal drugs are their GDP and main source of income. These countries will fight to the dealth to make sure that things stay this way. Look at the beheadings in Mexico! Despite all the low cost manufacturing that takes place in Mexic, manufacturing still only represents 1/3 of the total revenues made from illlegal drug sales.
This will be good for nicotine addiction and others drugs that stay in one's system for longer periods of time. Cocaine is in and out quick and I doubt anyone can be addicted to it in the first place.