Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Cornell University said this novel strategy might be the first to offer cocaine addicts a fairly simple way to break and reverse their habit.
The approach could also be useful in treating other addictions, such as to nicotine, heroin, and methamphetamine.
"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," said study's lead investigator, Ronald G. Crystal of the Weill Cornell Medical College.
In the new study, the vaccine effect lasted for at least 13 weeks, the longest time point evaluated in such an approach. Since the vaccine likely will not require multiple expensive infusions, the researchers hope that it can move quickly into human trials.
Clinically, this sort of therapy could be given to people in treatment programs to aid in their recovery. And, like most other types of treatment, it will only be useful for those who want the help.
In the new study, the team took advantage of a cocaine-hapten-scaffold (a cocaine-antigen that would elicit cocaine-producing antibodies) that was developed in the early 90s, this time chemically modifying it so that it could be attached to components of the adenovirus, a common cold virus.
To test the effect of the vaccine, the researchers injected billions of these viral concoctions into laboratory mice and found a strong immune response was generated against the vaccine. When put in test tubes, these antibodies gobbled up cocaine.
The scientists then tested the vaccine's effect on behavior and found mice that received the vaccine before cocaine were much less hyperactive while on the drug than unvaccinated mice.
The effect was even seen in mice that received large, repetitive doses of cocaine. The cocaine doses reflected amounts humans might use.
The findings were published in the journal Molecular Therapy. (ANI)