A multi-center cocaine vaccine trial, headed by Baylor University’s Dr. Thomas Kosten, has started recruitment at several sites. The vaccine works by turning the body’s own antibody defenses against the complex a cocaine molecule makes when it enters the bloodstream. The effect is to reduce the ability of cocaine to produce a high. This trial is a double-blind randomized placebo controlled trial to determine efficacy. Previous studies of this vaccine have shown that addicted users may increase their dosage of cocaine to regain a high, so the thinking is that combined with behavioral therapy, the vaccine can serve as protection against relapses that turn into binges by increasing the effort needed to retain the remembered highs.
From the press release at one of the testing sites:
when vaccinated patients use cocaine and its molecules reach the bloodstream, they are immediately sequestered by the antibodies—which hold on tightly to them, thus preventing them from entering the brain where they produce their deleterious effects.
"Addiction is dependent on how quickly the substance gets to the brain,” Somoza says. "So by slowing down or stopping the process, it would be possible to decrease the pleasurable effect individuals get from cocaine.”
ClinicalTrials.gov: Multisite Controlled Trial of Cocaine Vaccine TA-CD09
U of Cincinnati press release: Researchers Conducting Clinical Trial of Cocaine Vaccine
Image credit: April Southworth