New Treatment For Cocaine Addiction?
A recent study, published in the November 2009 issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, has found that a naturally-occurring bacterial protein may help in the fight against cocaine addiction.
Cocaine esterase (CocE) is a bacterial enzyme known to break down cocaine. While useful for protecting against the toxicity of a cocaine overdose, CocE has had limited use in treatment for cocaine addiction because it has a short half-life. This new study examined the effects of a longer-acting version of CocE known as double mutant cocaine esterase (DM CocE).
Trained rats, taught to press a button in order to self-administer cocaine, were the subject of this study. The rats who were treated with DM CocE self-administered cocaine less often, and were also protected against the toxic effects of what could otherwise have been a lethal overdose of cocaine.
What Does This Mean?
There are currently no approved medication therapies for cocaine abuse or addiction, but the effectiveness of DM CocE in reducing the self-administration of cocaine indicates that the enzyme may show promise as a pharmacological treatment option. Friedbert Weiss, of The Scripps Research Institute, writes that the results of the study suggest that "long-acting forms of CocE represent potentially valuable treatment approaches not only for the prevention of cocaine-induced toxicity but also for ongoing cocaine abuse in humans."