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Rodent of the Week: Immunity to cocaine induced in mice

January 07, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
(Advanced Cell Technology,…)

Cocaine addiction is difficult to treat. Doctors have no specific therapies for the addiction. However, an experiment in mice has produced promising results on a vaccine approach.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center created a vaccine by using elements of a common cold virus that elicit an immune response and linking it to a chemical that is similar in structure to cocaine. They injected the vaccine into ordinary mice and found a strong immune response was generated by the vaccine. They also found that mice who received the vaccine were less hyperactive after ingesting cocaine -- even large, repetitive doses -- compared with those that didn't get the vaccine.

The vaccine could be helpful for people who are already addicted to cocaine and are trying to stop using because it may destroy much of the drug before it reaches key centers of the brain that respond with pleasure, said the lead author of the study, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, a professor of genetic medicine, in a news release.

"Our very dramatic data shows that we can protect mice against the effects of cocaine, and we think this approach could be very promising in fighting addiction in humans," Crystal said. "While other attempts at producing immunity against cocaine have been tried, this is the first that will likely not require multiple, expensive infusions, and that can move quickly into human trials."


The study was published online Tuesday in the journal Molecular Therapy.

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