Scientists in Brazil are developing the first vaccine against cocaine addiction.
The potentially miraculous jab, named Calixcoca, is designed to trigger an immune response that blocks the drug from reaching the brain — which then stops addicts from getting high, reportedly helping users break the cycle of addiction.
A research team from the Federal University of Minas Gerais has announced promising results on their work — earning them them the top prize of $530,000 at last week’s Euro Health Innovation awards for Latin American medicine.
The vaccine prompts the body to produce antibodies that bind to cocaine’s molecules in the bloodstream.
The cocaine molecules then become too large to continue into the brain’s “reward center,” where the drug typically produces high levels of dopamine. Users would then be deprived of the expected thrill associated with the highly addictive drug.
“There’s no specific registered treatment for cocaine and crack addiction. We currently use a combination of psychological counseling, social assistance and rehabilitation, when necessary,” researcher Frederico Garcia told Barron’s.
The vaccine is intended to assist addicts at their most critical stages of recovery, such as when they leave rehab, he added.
The vaccine is created with chemical compounds rather than biological ingredients, which would make the drug less expensive to produce than many other vaccines. It would also not have to be stored at cold temperatures — allowing for ease of handling.
The trials have only been run on animals, but testing on humans is set to begin next. More than 3,000 people have volunteered to take part in the clinical trials.
The experts believe this groundbreaking research could change how addiction is treated.
The Post has contacted the researchers for comment.
Brazil is the world’s second-biggest consumer of cocaine, just behind the United States.
American scientists have attempted, so far unsuccessfully, to create a similar vaccine.
In 2016, researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital announced that a vaccine had been approved for clinical trials after earlier experiments on monkeys and rodents. Human trials ended, however, when they failed to show sufficient results.
No updates have been published.
Drug overdoses have drastically increased in recent years. In fact, the US is now experiencing its greatest overall rates of death in more than a century — and it’s being fueled by a sharp rise in ODs.