Can This Antibody Help Block the Addictive Effects of Cocaine?

It’s one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs on the market. Complications associated with cocaine use often include respiratory failure, seizure, stroke, cardiac arrest and profuse bleeding of the brain. In fact, studies suggest that cocaine is responsible for almost a quarter of the two million drug-related visits to the emergency room each year.

Given that cocaine is extremely addictive and exceptionally dangerous, it’s important that we continue to invest in research and evidence-based treatments for cocaine addiction.

And, researchers at the University of Cincinnati are doing just that. They have developed an experimental immunotherapy that, if approved, will be the first FDA-approved medication to obstruct its addictive effects.

A team of scientists, led by Andrew Norman, a professor in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics at the UC College of Medicine, have developed a potentially powerful tool in the fight against cocaine abuse. They’ve created an injectable antibody that helps to reduce cravings for the drug. It works within the body by attaching itself to the compounds found in cocaine which prevents them from being absorbed in the brain.

“It will help keep people that are motivated to stay off cocaine do so by making sure any relapse event does not lead to a sustained relapse event,” said Norman.

While their preliminary findings are positive, Norman and his team will still need to pass toxicology studies and another round of animal tests before applying for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

“Science has clearly shown that drug addiction results from profound disruptions in brain structure and function, presenting numerous potential targets for medications development—yet, few medications have come to fruition,” says National Institute on Drug Abuse Director, Nora Volkow, MD.

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