A novel anti-cocaine vaccine has been successfully tested in primates, bringing researchers closer to launching clinical trials with the vaccine in humans. The research was lead by Dr Ronald Crystal at Weill Cornell Medical College, and was published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
The vaccine, dAd5GNE, works by preventing cocaine from reaching the central nervous system. It is based on the cocaine analogue GNE linked to the capsid proteins of a serotype 5 adenovirus, evoking the production of anti-cocaine antibodies that sequester the cocaine in the blood.
“The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-man before it can reach the brain,” said the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman of the Department of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
The team assessed the efficacy of dAd5GNE by using positron emission tomography (PET) and a radiotracer to measure cocaine occupancy of dopamine transporters in primates. Research has shown that to get a high from the drug, at least 47% of the dopamine transporter had to be occupied by cocaine. The researchers found, in vaccinated primates, that cocaine occupancy of the dopamine receptor was reduced to levels of less than 20% – well below the â€˜drug high' threshold.
By blocking the drug high associated with cocaine, this could help addicts break their addiction. “Even if a person who receives the anti-cocaine vaccine falls off the wagon, cocaine will have no effect.” Dr Crystal says there are an estimated 1.4 million cocaine users in the US, and the vaccine might soon reach those who are committed to breaking the habit, as human testing of the anti-cocaine vaccine could begin within a year.
Dr Crystal recently spoke about his work with dAd5GNE anti-cocaine vaccine, and also an anti-nicotine vaccines, at the World Vaccine Congress & Expo USA 2013. Read more here > Lifestyle Addiction and Allergy Vaccines – cocaine, smoking, alcohol and allergies >
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