A Virus to Fight Addiction

Perhaps a nose-full of virus can fight cocaine addiction. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., report that a bacteriophage with anticocaine antibodies can be used to block or sequester cocaine in the brain.1 Chemist Kim Janda and colleagues injected the antibody-displaying phages nasally, finding that treated rats moved less and showed reduced rearing and sniffing when injected with cocaine.Other attempts to block cocaine have used antibodies in the blood stream, bu

Harvey Black
Aug 1, 2004
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Perhaps a nose-full of virus can fight cocaine addiction. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., report that a bacteriophage with anticocaine antibodies can be used to block or sequester cocaine in the brain.1 Chemist Kim Janda and colleagues injected the antibody-displaying phages nasally, finding that treated rats moved less and showed reduced rearing and sniffing when injected with cocaine.

Other attempts to block cocaine have used antibodies in the blood stream, but Janda wanted to see if they could work in the brain. "That's where all the action goes on with regards to addiction," he says. The viral treatment was most successful at lower cocaine doses.

This method is a novel approach, notes Kathleen Kantak, a Boston University neuroscientist. But she does have a reservation: "It was a little disappointing. The effects of the antibody were very short-lived; it was able to block the locomotor...