Cocaine addiction is an enormous challenge, according to researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and New York University. Dr. Stephen Ross said in the February 12, 2011 issue of Science News “The more tools we have, the better." Ross is an addiction psychiatrist involved in the development of a cocaine vaccine. Studies in mice showed that antibodies generated in response to their vaccine latched onto cocaine molecules and blocked most of them from reaching the brain. Cocaine produces distinctive agitation in mice, with abnormally high amounts of running and repetitive motions. Vaccinated mice given cocaine behaved as if they had not received the cocaine.
The TA-CD vaccine, an acronym for Therapy for Addiction – Cocaine Dependence, made the news as far back as 2008 when Time reported on its development at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. This vaccine is now being tested in a multi-site Phase II trial at the following locations:
1. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
2. Substance Abuse Treatment and Research Service, New York, New York
3. NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, New York
4. Cincinnati Addiction Research Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
5. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6. Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
Check http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00969878?term=cocaine+vaccine&rank=2 for enrollment opportunities.
Vaccines have potential to treat any type of chemical dependency, if scientists can develop a molecule that primes the immune system to intercept the drug of dependence. Under most conditions, the immune system recognizes only molecules the size of proteins or larger. Therefore the drug of dependence must be attached to a larger molecule to form a vaccine. Cocaine and nicotine are two of the prime candidates for vaccine research. We all know how common nicotine abuse is. Cocaine abuse is less open, but it has a disproportionately large social impact, according to Reference 2. Cocaine is the most common complaint of patients who enter treatment for illegal drug use.
The cocaine vaccine should be able to stop a slip-up from becoming a binge for recovering addicts.