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Researchers Report on New Development in Quest for Cocaine Vaccine

February 07, 2020

Researchers who are exploring various vaccine approaches for drug addiction have reported discovering a new formulation that could have potential in addressing cocaine dependence. The vaccine has been tested only in mice to this point.

Results of research into the new formulation were published this week in npj Vaccines. A liquid nose drop as opposed to an injection serves as the delivery mechanism for the vaccine, which includes a new compound to help the immune system create antibody responses to cocaine.

“By inducing antibody responses that block the activity of the drugs, we could prevent the euphoria or high that is associated with using the cocaine,” said senior author Herman Staats, PhD, associate professor of immunology and medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine and a member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Staats also is part of a research team that is investigating vaccine approaches for opioid addiction.

Mice receiving the new formulation of the vaccine along with cocaine exhibited less movement than those that received cocaine only, which correlates to less of a high in humans, the researchers reported.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has identified vaccine development as a priority area in the effort to combat the opioid crisis, with the belief that discovery in this area also could inform vaccine development for other drugs of abuse.

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