An Antidote for Cocaine Overdose?

A novel antibody with a powerful affinity for cocaine shows promise in reversing the deadly effects of an overdose.

Cristina Luiggi
Apr 19, 2012

FLICKR, WILLWINTER

A new anti-cocaine passive vaccine—a vaccine consisting of ready-made antibodies—can reverse the effects of acute toxicity following a lethal dose of the drug in mice, according to a study published last month in Molecular Pharmaceutics, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The vaccine, developed by chemist Kim Janda of The Scripps Research Institute and colleagues, consists of a human monoclonal antibody, dubbed GNCgzk, which binds to cocaine 10 times stronger than other anti-cocaine molecules reported in the literature. It was Janda who, in the mid-1990s, helped develop the first anti-cocaine vaccine. (See The Scientist’s 2011 feature on this topic, Shooting Down Addiction.)

The antibody candidate was isolated from a screen of more than 1,500 molecules and “has distinguished itself as a passive vaccine holding the greatest clinical promise,” the authors concluded in the Molecular Pharmaceutics paper.

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