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Toward a Cocaine Vaccine

A modified bacterial protein elicits a robust immune response against a cocaine-linked molecule in mice.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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FLICKR, ACID PIXDecades of research into a vaccine that could help people stop using cocaine have had relatively little success, with none proving widely effective in fighting addiction. Perhaps the bacterial protein flagellin and a cocaine hapten called GNE could be the key, according to a study published last month (December 22) in Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Kim Janda of Scripps Research Institute and his colleagues developed a modified recombinant flagellin protein that displayed GNE. When injected into mice, the conjugate molecule elicited dose-dependent expression of anti-GNE antibodies.

“This work represents a new avenue for exploration in the use of hapten-flagellin conjugates to elicit antihapten immune responses,” the researchers wrote in their report.

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