Protein May Help Cocaine Addicts Quit

Protein May Help Cocaine Addicts Quit

New findings suggest that a kind of protein could help cocaine addicts beat their addiction. The protein, known as cocaine esterase, is a naturally occurring bacterial enzyme that breaks down cocaine. This is thought to make cocaine less addictive, but it doesn’t last long in the body.

HealthDay News reports that in a new study published online in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers report that they’re moving toward a possible solution through the development of a longer-lasting version of the protein. In rats, it lessened the desire for cocaine and prevented the rodents from dying of overdoses.

The researchers tested the protein by allowing rats to administer cocaine to themselves by pressing a button; they did so less often when they were treated with the longer-lasting version of the protein.

“These therapeutic approaches may not be ‘fail-safe’ for reducing cocaine intake by determined users,” Friedbert Weiss, of Faculty of 1000 Medicine, said in a news release.

But the long-acting forms of the protein “represent potentially valuable treatment approaches not only for the prevention of cocaine-induced toxicity but also for ongoing cocaine abuse in humans,” said Weiss, who reviewed the research.

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