"Unfortunately, there is no methadone for cocaine," said Janda. "Immunotherapy, however, might provide the added boost to keep a person from a major relapse, as after immunization a slip will not produce a drug effect."
Building on Previous Work
The Janda laboratory and the laboratory of George Koob, chair of the Committee on The Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at Scripps Research, have , however, been working for more than a decade trying to find new approaches for combating addictive drugs of abuse such as cocaine.
In previous work, Janda and his synthetic team had developed several alternative formulations of anti-cocaine vaccines, which also acted by stimulating an active immune response against the drug in the bloodstream. However, a drawback of these prior vaccines as a lack of ready transferability to clinical trials.
In the new study, the team took advantage of a cocaine-hapten-scaffold (a cocaine-antigen that would elicit cocaine-producing antibodies) that Janda 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. In this way, the human immune system was alerted to an infectious agent (the virus), but also learned to "see" the cocaine as an intruder. In this approach, the researchers used only the parts of the adenovirus that elicited an immune response, discarding those that produce sickness.
To test the effect of the vaccine, the researchers then 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 o
|Contact: Mika Ono|
Scripps Research Institute