Researchers Develop Antibody That Blocks Cocaine Effects

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Researchers Develop Antibody That Blocks Cocaine Effects

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say they have created an immunotherapy that is poised to be the first medication approved by the Federal Drug Administration to block the effects of cocaine.

Although flying a bit under the radar, cocaine has played an integral role in the national drug epidemic. It’s an increasingly common second drug of choice for those who use opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers.

Leading the development of the cocaine-blocking antibody is Andrew Norman, a professor in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics at the U of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He says that the antibody “will not be a magic bullet” but noted that it could help reduce cravings so that the user desire to less continue using:

“It will help keep people that are motivated to stay off cocaine do so by relapse event does not lead to a sustained relapse event. If people are not highly motivated to quit cocaine, there is no reason that this will be helpful.”

An antibody is a protein in the blood that fights against a certain antigen. When injected into the blood, this antibody attaches to cocaine and blocks it from entering the brain.

This antibody that Norman’s team has developed can block cocaine effects for an extended period. Moreover, if used on humans, people would receive it in doses that continue to be effective for at least one month.

Norman calls the potential new treatment “…a major national need.” However, studies on toxicology and another round of animal tests are required before researchers can apply to the FDA to begin human trials. These studies are expected to be completed in a year, and Norman hopes that human studies can begin in 2018.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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