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Cocaine Vaccination May Curb Addiction

Category: Drug Screening

An anti-cocaine vaccine which inactivates the drug's impact of the brain may help some addicts curb their habit, research suggests.

A placebo-controlled clinical trial supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) showed that the vaccine produced a reduction in cocaine use in 38 percent of vaccinated patients from a methadone maintenance program.

The anti-cocaine vaccine, like vaccines against infectious diseases, promotes production of antibodies in the immune system which prevent cocaine molecules in the blood from communicating with the brain, thereby blocking the euphoric effect felt by users.

After five vaccinations over 12 weeks, participants with the highest levels of cocaine antibodies had the greatest reductions in cocaine use.
"In this study immunization did not achieve complete abstinence from cocaine use," Dr Thomas Kosten, the study's lead author explained. "Previous research has shown, however that a reduction in use is associated with a significant improvement in cocaine abusers' social functioning and thus is therapeutically meaningful."

The study's participants also attended weekly relapse-prevention therapy sessions and had urine analysis and drug screening for opioids and cocaine three times a week.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, cocaine is responsible for over half of drug-related hospital visits in the U.S.

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