Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have developed a new injectable drug which could protect experimental mice from cocaine overdose. These findings could lead to a new drug treatment for human clinical trials designed to reverse the effects of cocaine overdose.
According to senior researcher Dr. Kim Janda,"This would be the first specific antidote for cocaine toxicity."
"It's a human antibody so it should be relatively safe, it has a superior affinity for cocaine, and we examined it in a cocaine overdose model that mirrors a real-life scenario," Janda added.
Janda and his colleagues have been developing experimental vaccines against cocaine. However most of these vaccines take weeks to stimulate proper immune response.
In 2005, they tested another vaccine, a ready-made solution of specific antibodies (GNC92H2) for cocaine, on mice overdosed with cocaine. The tests showed positive results, however, mouse antibodies were not ideal for human clinical trials.
In their new study, researchers have made a genetically engineered mouse that produced human antibodies against cocaine molecules. These antibodies, GNCgzk, had ten times greater affinity than the last antibody, in their previous study.
In their preliminary tests, they found the new antibody vaccine reduced mice mortality rate to 20 percent. Those that were not given treatment died within a few minutes after given cocaine overdose. Furthermore, a version of GNCgzk - F(ab')2-gzk, reduced the mortality rate to zero, and also reduced the signs of cocaine overdose.
Janda and her team are now finding a way to produce the antidote (F(ab')2-gzk) economically and in large quantities.