Vaccine to Curb Cocaine Addiction is 'Not a Magic Bullet'
Many people do not see cocaine dependency as a comparable addiction to alcohol or heroine. Partly, this is because it is often seen purely as a recreational drug and partly, because addiction to cocaine does not necessarily manifest in the same physical ways.
Cocaine is also often perceived as having a higher status than other addictive substances. However, 'coke' as it is commonly known, does have its own addictive properties, and just the occasional use of the drug can put even young, healthy people at increased risk of heart problems or a stroke.
Now, a new study is looking into how a vaccine could be created to help cocaine users curb their addictions. Dr Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a former senior policy adviser in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, wrote in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month about experiments to use the body's own immune system as a weapon in the fight against the drug's addictive properties.
According to the professor, the idea for this method of combating addiction came about as early as the 1970s, but it was until 2009 that a groundbreaking clinical trial revealed evidence that it could actually work.
"Thomas Kosten of Baylor College of Medicine and his colleagues tested a vaccine that combines molecules of cocaine with a harmless component of cholera. Sensing what appears to be an emerging infection, the body generates an immune response to the cholera that extends to the cocaine," he wrote.
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"At the end of the trial, patients whose bodies generated a strong immune response to the vaccine had almost 30 per cent more cocaine-free drug tests than did patients who generated a weak response or who received a placebo."