New Drug Neutralizes Effects Of Cocaine

Traces of cocaine found in air of Italy's biggest cities

Crack and cocaine addicts could soon need a new drug.

A new vaccine being studied by New York’s Weill Cornell Medical College could help these addicts beat their habit by preventing the drug from getting them high. Researchers have developed the vaccine to build up the immune system so it prevents the drug from moving through the bloodstream and into the brain, the U.K.’s Daily Mirror reported.

Cocaine works by stimulating the nerve centers in the brain responsible for activating dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and reward. The vaccine contains a cocaine-like molecule along with the common cold virus, training antibodies to treat cocaine like an invading disease, the report said.

“This offers a whole new treatment paradigm for addiction,” researcher Shankar Vallabhajosula told the Daily Mirror.

The vaccine was first described in the medical journal “Molecular Therapy” in January 2011, and this week was presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s annual meeting in Miami Beach, Fla., International Business Times reported.

The research team that created the vaccine hopes to soon move on to human testing, the report said. Findings released this week showed that the vaccine was able to keep the drug away from the brain of rhesus monkeys, a key step that could lead toward more research, the International Business Times reported.

Previously the team had only been able to test the vaccine on mice and observe their behavior. The more objective medical findings from the monkey testing will go a long way toward further research and eventually developing the vaccine into a marketable drug, the report said.