NEW ORLEANS, La., Aug. 23 -- A potential vaccine against the addictive effects of cocaine was described here today at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Kim D. Janda, Ph.D., a scientist at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif., said he has induced the immune system to create specific antibodies that attack the cocaine molecule and keep it from reaching its target, the central nervous system.
Cocaine does not produce antibodies because its molecule is too small to be recognized by the immune system. Janda said he has overcome this obstacle by attaching a cocaine derivative to a larger protein, an effect he calls "painting a bulls-eye" on the derivative. Over a period of several weeks, the body builds up a sufficient amount of cocaine antibodies to create an effective vaccine in a process called "active immunization." Using laboratory cloning techniques, Janda's research team has also created an antibody which, when injected in large quantities, reduces the toxic effects of cocaine overdose.
Janda said animal studies are in the final stages of completion and human clinical trials should begin by the end of the year.
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