Forget Swine Flu—New Cocaine Vaccine May "Stop Addiction"

By Brett Israel | October 6, 2009 11:32 am

coke_webLost amid all the talk about the swine flu vaccine is another vaccine that is under study—a vaccine against cocaine addiciton.

In a 7-week study of 55 cocaine and opiate addicts, those who received the vaccine and attained a high level of antibodies from it were 45 percent more likely to have a cocaine-free urine test afterwards, as opposed to 35 percent for those who either had lower antibodies or received a placebo instead. According to BBC News:

The proportion of participants who reduced their cocaine use by half was significantly greater among those treated with the active vaccine – 53% compared to 23% in the placebo group.

The researchers said about 40% of the participants achieved antibody levels of 20 micrograms per millilitre.

They said this was enough to combat one to two doses of cocaine which should be enough to prevent relapses in many patients.

Here are details on how the vaccine works from PopSci:

The vaccine works similar to vaccines for microorganisms, training your body to view cocaine as a bad invader. The shots, which include a cocainelike substance (succinylnorcocaine), encourage the body to pump out antibodies against cocaine. The antibodies bind to the coke, which prevents it from getting into the brain, and theoretically prevents people from getting high. Right now, only about 38 percent of the subjects who got the vaccine produced high levels of antibodies, so there’s room for improvement.

There are no FDA approved vaccines against narcotics, but the research could certainly help the 2.5 million Americans that are hooked on cocaine. The researchers told that they plan to confirm their results in a larger study and hope to have the vaccine available withing a few years if all goes well. The study was published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Move Over, Heroin: “Sugar Addiction” May Be a Reality
DISCOVER: Is Overeating an Addiction?
DISCOVER: The Biology of… Addiction

Image: flickr/foxtounge

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