Brazilian scientists announced a few days ago that They developed a new vaccine to treat addiction of cocaine and its powerful derivative, crack. Called ‘Calixcoca’, the treatment, which has given good results in animal tests, triggers an immune response that prevents these substances from reaching the brain.
The vaccine, as they develop, can prevent drug addicts from getting high. This is how we hope to break the cycle of addiction. According to Frederico Garcia, psychiatrist and project coordinator at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), if the treatment gets regulatory approval, This is the first time cocaine addiction has been treated with a vaccine.
A week ago, the project won the highest award, worth 500,000 euros, at the Euro Health Awards for Innovation in Latin American Medicine. promoted by the pharmaceutical company Eurofarma.
As they commented, the vaccine works causing the patients immune system to produce antibodies It binds to cocaine molecules in the bloodstream, making them large enough to enter the brain’s mesolimbic system, or “reward center,” where the drug normally triggers high levels of pleasure-inducing dopamine.
Similar studies were conducted in the United States, the largest consumer of cocaine in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. but These efforts were stopped when clinical trials did not show sufficient results.among other factors, as García points out.
To date, Calixcoca has been proven effective in animal tests, producing significant levels of anti-cocaine antibodies and minimal side effects. The researchers They also discovered that it protected rat fetuses against cocaine, suggesting that it could be used in humans to protect the fetuses of pregnant women. The vaccine is about to enter the final phase of trials: human trials.
According to García, ‘Calixcoca’ can change the treatment of addictions. “No more There is no specific treatment prescribed for cocaine addiction and crack. “Now we use a combination of psychological counseling, social assistance and rehabilitation, if necessary,” he said.
Garcia believes Calixcoca can add an important tool to that regimen by helping patients at critical stages of recovery, such as when they leave rehab. The vaccine It is made using chemical compounds designed in the laboratory, rather than biological substance which means that its production is cheaper than many vaccines and does not need to be stored at low temperatures.
However, García cautions that this is not a “panacea” that can be administered to anyone. The exact target group will depend on the results of clinical trials, however In theory it is designed for recovering addicts “who quit (cocaine) and want to continue like this,” he added.
The goal is to change what García describes as “sad statistics.” According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, one in four regular cocaine users is addicted. And only one in four addicts managed to stop after five years of treatment. Given what is at stake, the anticipation surrounding the vaccine is enormous. More than 3,000 people contacted García’s team to voluntarily participate in clinical trials.