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Team creates novel vaccine that produces strong immunity against cocaine high
Date:1/4/2011

ug," said Janda, the Eli R. Callaway Jr. Chair in Chemistry and a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research. "In essence we view such vaccines as 'immuno-helpers' for treating substance abuse, and, in the case at hand, it might prove to be extremely useful for crack addicts whose relapse rate is exceedingly high."

The Drug

According to the latest statistics available from National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2008 5.3 million Americans age 12 and older had abused cocaine in any form and 1.1 million had abused crack at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.

Cocaine, derived from the leaf of the Erythroxylaceae coca plant, is a highly potent drug that, as a salt, is either snorted or dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream. The salt is also often neutralized to make an insoluble "free-base" form that is smoked.

Once ingested in the bloodstream, the drug crosses the bloodbrain barrier and accumulates rapidly in the brain. "The brain levels rise very rapidly once cocaine is taken into the system," said Janda.

Moreover, the cocaine builds up in parts of the brain reward systems such as the nucleus accumbens. There, the cocaine molecules interfere with the normal regulation of dopamine by binding to dopamine transporters and blocking them from recycling the neurotransmitter.

This leads to the build-up of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, which produces a euphoric feeling in the usera quick rush that hits seconds after taking the drug and lasts several minutes. The psychological effect of this immediate reward is the basis for drug seeking in users. Compulsive usersaddictswill keep a perceived desire for the effect that will many times confound a recovering addict's best efforts to stay clean.

There is a common report among intravenous drug addicts that their first injectionthat first snort of coke, shot of
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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