by Dennis Yang
Thu, Jan 3rd 2008 8:39am
Researchers are working on a cocaine vaccine that uses the immune system to attack cocaine molecules, rendering them ineffective. The vaccine, which is currently in clinical trials, could be a boon to recovering cocaine addicts -- approximately half of which relapse within a year of detoxification. With the vaccine, the biochemical pathways through which cocaine works are blocked, so, taking cocaine does not come with an associated high so addicts do not become re-addicted. Of course, the vaccine is in no way meant as a replacement for drug treatment, since it does nothing to treat the underlying psychological factors of the addiction. It is not mentioned if the vaccine can be used before addiction occurs -- or even before cocaine is ever taken. Granted, the current trials do not include that use, nor do they include children, but, if it were available, would parents flock to their doctors and have their kids vaccinated? And, what other maladies could be treated in such a manner? Reports from the 1900s indicate attempts to create an alcohol vaccine. More recently, Celtic Pharma's nicotine vaccine works on a similar mechanism to the cocaine vaccine, but for nicotine. Sure, you'd be hard pressed to find detractors against a cocaine vaccine, but if a nicotine vaccine became available would the tobacco lobby be worried?
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