Baylor Researchers Develop Cocaine Vaccine
Researchers at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine have developed a cocaine vaccine which “stimulates the immune system to attack the real thing”, according to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle online.
The vaccine “attaches inactivated cocaine to the outside of inactivated cholera proteins”, allowing the immune system to make antibodies to attack cocaine when it’s ingested by the body. These antibodies “bind to the cocaine and prevent it from reaching the brain, where it normally would generate the highs that are so addictive.”
Under development for more than ten years, the vaccine offers to be one of the first feasible pharmaceutical treatments for cocaine addiction. Led by Dr. Tom Kosten, much of the research was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Dr. Kosten is also at work on similar vaccines for methamphetamine, heroin and nicotine. He does not regard the vaccine as a panacea or “stand-alone treatment”, but believes it could be effective if used in conjunction with counseling and therapy.
The vaccine still requires FDA approval, which could be more than a few years down the road. In the meantime it faces a host of ethical, legal and social challenges, a point noted in the article by the National Academy of Science’ Center for Studies of Behavior and Development.
Currently, an estimated 2 million people in the US are struggling with a cocaine addiction.
Source: Houston Chronicle Online
Date: Jan. 2, 2008