Although cocaine use has declined steadily since its peak in the early 1980s, public health officials estimate that about 7 million Americans used the drug at least once last year. Many of these folks are addicted to the drug, and its intense, short-lived euphoric effects mean the addiction is terribly difficult to overcome.
Addiction specialists believe existing treatment paradigms for cocaine addiction can be enhanced by a vaccine that prevents the drug from crossing the blood-brain barrier, thus blunting its euphoric effects. Scientists have worked hard to develop such a vaccine, but have had limited success so far.
About a year ago for example, Thomas Kosten and colleagues at Baylor reported partial success in a human trial of a cocaine vaccine. In that trial, 38 percent of subjects who received all five shots in the vaccine series achieved sufficient antibody levels to blunt the effects of the drug. In that subset, 53 percent of the subjects stopped using cocaine, meaning that overall, the vaccine worked about 20 percent of the time.
Unfortunately, some subjects began snorting massive amounts of the drug in an effort to overcome the vaccine’s effects. Some people managed to amass 10 times more of the drug in their systems than was present before the trial began. Cocaine levels like that can kill people. In addition, the cocaine antibodies, when they developed at all, remained in the bloodstream of subjects for only eight to 10 weeks — it takes longer than that to assure the behavioral aspects of the addiction are overcome. (more…)
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*