Science Progress | Where science, technology, and progressive policy meet

Vaccine Helps Break the Habit

Cocaine is notoriously addictive, and even users committed to kicking the habit have a tremendously hard time cutting the chemical dependency. To help break the cycle, researchers have developed a vaccine aimed at stimulating an immune response that stops the drug from working. The National Institutes of Health reported yesterday that a clinical trial of the vaccine showed promising results, substantially reducing cocaine use in 38 percent of vaccinated participants.

If successful, the vaccine would be the first designed for use against an illegal drug. And as Mark Meier explained in an article last year at SP before the trial began, the project represents a novel scientific pathway built with novel sources of public-private funding. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported the trial, run by Thomas Kosten, M.D., of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The immune response triggered by the vaccine produces antibodies that attach themselves to the tiny cocaine molecules, neutralizing their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Unable to reach the brain, the drug cannot get the user high, severing the link between use and euphoria.

Tags: ,

Comments on this article

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the Science Progress Privacy Policy and agree to the Science Progress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.