13 Jul Anti-Cocaine ‘Pac-man’ Vaccine Could Be Used on Humans Within a Year
For those who have struggled with cocaine addiction, an answer may soon be on its way. Researchers from the Department of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College have developed a vaccine that attacks cocaine while it is still in the bloodstream, preventing the user from getting high.
The study led by Dr. Ronald Crystal was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology and offers hope to those who have been unable to kick their dependence on cocaine. According to an article published in Mail Online, in the instance that a dependent individual relapses, the vaccine prevents the drug’s euphoric effect. And without the desired effect, the drug becomes less attractive.
According to Dr. Crystal, the vaccine uses the body’s own immune system to act as “Pac-man” and consume cocaine’s active chemicals while they are still in the blood. Through a special radiological method, it inhibits the drug from leaving the bloodstream and making its way to the brain where it would otherwise cause a surge in dopamine. This surge is what contributes to a person getting high.
The new vaccine contains elements of the cold virus and attaches them to particles that are structurally similar to cocaine. In primates, the body was tricked into producing an autoimmune response to both elements – meaning that it would forever respond to cocaine as an intruder and mount an attack on it with antibodies anytime it reentered the bloodstream.
The only question is how many shots or boosters it would take to perpetuate the desired effects in humans. So far the vaccine has only been tested on mice and primates. It is hoped that human trials will begin to take place over the next 12 months.
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