Imagine being able to end your drug addiction with a shot. Researchers are working on just that with an “anti-cocaine” vaccination. It can help keep cocaine from reaching the brain, preventing the user from feeling the effects of the drug.
If users can’t get the effect they seek from the drug, then what is the point in taking it? If you have a loved one that is suffering from addiction issues, call one of the best substance abuse treatment centers in Wilmington NC! Call Legacy Freedom of Wilmington to learn more.
Anti-Cocaine Vaccine - Is It Real?
Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in California reported their experiment in Molecular Pharmaceutics. They used the same concept behind any vaccine, which is to give the body a bacteria that triggers the immune system to ward it off. In this case, they used flagellin, a bacterial protein, to trigger the immune system to kick in and attack the cocaine when it is ingested. A person who has taken the drug feels dulled effects or none at all.
This has been attempted in previous studies but they did not have the success this group of researchers had. Different bacterial strains were used previously but they did not produce the any results. The current study with flagellin has been tested on mice with promising results. Previous tests on mice with another type of vaccine were not successful.
Researchers believe that this bacterial protein can act as a carrier and adjuvant. It can attach itself to the antigen (cocaine in this case) and then enhance the immune system’s response by also acting as adjuvant. While the vaccine has only been tested on mice, researchers are hopeful they can use the same techniques to develop a vaccine to test on humans that will have the same results.
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Another study done by a group from Weill Cornell Medical College is aiming to do the same thing. Their vaccine also blocks the drug from reaching the brain so that it will not have an effect on the user. Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, one of the lead researchers on the team, said in a press release, “The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-Man before it can reach the brain.”
Imagine seeing Pac-Man chasing the trail of cocaine in a brain trying to take it all in before it can reach the receptors.
He also went on to say, “We believe this strategy is a win-win for those individuals, among the estimated 1.4 million cocaine users in the United States, who are committed to breaking their addiction to the drug.”
He added that even if someone relapsed and took cocaine again, it would still have no effect on them, making recovery easier. It works by preventing dopamine from accumulating in the brain’s nerve endings. It works in the same way a vaccine for the flu would work. When the body gets an injection of the bacteria, it triggers the immune system to fight it off. The vaccine itself mimics the way the real illness would work.
Cocaine works by preventing the reuptake of dopamine, which is the chemical in the brain that releases feelings of pleasure. When cocaine enters the system, it stops the dopamine from the neuron that releases it, which results in higher concentrations of the chemical in the synapse, making the user feel a flood of good feelings, or a “high.” If you've got a cocaine problem, make the call to one of the best substance abuse treatment centers in Wilmington NC. Call Legacy Freedom. We can help you.
Researchers found that in order for this effect to occur, at least 47 percent of the dopamine transporter needs to have cocaine in it. The vaccine that they developed only allowed 20 percent to get to the dopamine receptors, making it impossible to feel a high from the drug. It has been tested on primates, and it has worked in them for periods of seven weeks. They also tested it on mice and it worked for 13 weeks. If it is tested and approved for humans, it would have to be administered as booster shots over a period of time so it will continue working.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, there are about 1.9 million cocaine users in the U.S. That means about one in five people who use cocaine will become addicted to it. The cost of substance abuse in general is reported to be over $600 billion per year. The data also shows that there are about 480,000 visits to the emergency room as a result of cocaine use. It is a social problem that has been around for decades. Development of a vaccine that can help people addicted to the drug would be an advancement in the fight against drugs.
Dr. Crystal said, “Cocaine addiction is a major social problem. It causes changes to behavior, it’s expensive and it’s illegal. It’s very difficult to stop. If we could successfully develop a cocaine vaccine it would really be a very positive social advance.”
Cocaine has health risks that start with increased blood pressure and heart rate. It reduces blood flow to the heart and can cause blood clots. It can also cause muscle spasms and convulsions. It can make people feel paranoid, hostile and anxious when they take it and when it begins to wear off. Long term use increases the chance of heart attack, seizures, respiratory failure and even death.
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