Cocaine Vaccination Shows Potential

Cocaine use has reached epidemic proportions across most of the world. It is among the most commonly used illegal drugs in Europe and the United States. Cocaine abuse can lead to addiction and a host of serious health problems, including cardiovascular complications, stroke, seizures, coma and death. Cocaine is an extremely difficult addiction, and while treatment is more effective as drug and alcohol rehab becomes more sophisticated, the rate of relapse remains high.

In recent years, researchers at New York’s Weill Cornell College have been working on development of vaccines that may effectively block cocaine before the tiny cocaine molecules can cross through the protective blood-brain barrier. The treatment, which involves injection of a cocaine-like substance, triggers the body’s own immune system to produce anti-cocaine antibodies that are released as soon as cocaine is used. In animal tests, very little cocaine made it across the barrier.

Another method currently under study involves injection of genes into the liver cells. The liver quickly produces antibodies, which halt the drug before it reaches the brain.

If either vaccine works, users will derive very little pleasure or benefit from using cocaine, which will make it much easier to stop using.

So far, researchers aren’t sure how long the effect of the vaccines will last. However, animal tests suggest the effects may be present for several weeks. If the drug is approved, addicts would receive a series of shots consisting of an initial shot followed by regular booster shots.

If the vaccinations work as a treatment for cocaine addiction, researchers believe similar vaccines could be developed to treat other addictions, including nicotine, methamphetamine and heroin.

Concerns of the Treatment Community

Many treatment professionals think that the injections hold potential, and that they may provide time for the brain to heal from the ravages of cocaine addiction. However, most believe drug and alcohol treatment and rehab is still critical in order to address the underlying causes of addiction.

One major concern is that cocaine addicts who crave the high produced by the drug may attempt to use massive, potentially fatal amounts of cocaine in order to overpower the effect of the injections.

However, the vaccine, which will be available for individuals who are attempting to quit, isn’t intended to be used as a preventive measure. Most likely, it will be available for addicts who have completed drug treatment and have achieved several weeks of abstinence.

Human Testing to Begin Soon

Testing on human subjects is likely to begin very soon. Clinical studies are expected to take more than two years, which is required in order to determine if the human body can effectively produce enough antibodies to combat cocaine addiction.

At Paracelsus

At Paracelsus, we always stay up-to-date with the latest research. We’ll be among the first to implement new treatment methods as soon as they successfully pass clinical trials and receive official approvals.

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