New Cocaine Addiction Treatment on the Horizon: A Bacterial Enzyme

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Researchers in the UK have identified a bacterial enzyme that, they say, breaks cocaine down in the body, effectively reducing the drug’s addictiveness and may help fight both cocaine addiction and overdose.

The naturally occurring bacterial enzyme, Cocaine esterase or CocE, essentially breaks cocaine molecules down in the body, reducing its physical addictiveness and eventually lead to a new way to treat cocaine addiction, as well as help reduce cocaine overdose.

CocE, researchers found, is only active in the body for a rather short period of time. However, they have also found a more stable version in a double mutant bacterial version, DM CocE.

In their clinical trial, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers from The Scripps Research Institute trained rats to self-administer cocaine. By pressing a button, cocaine would be released to the rats, mimicking human drug-seeking behaviour common to all addictions.

Once given the double mutant bacterial enzyme, the rats pressed the cocaine-administering button far less, suggesting that the enzyme successfully broke the cocaine down and rendered it far less physically addictive.

Lead researcher told reporters that although the enzyme is not a fail-safe cure for “determined users”, it could nonetheless prove to be a new effective therapeutic approach.

As with all medical interventions to treat addiction, this new treatment should be used in conjunction with a therapeutic drug addiction treatment program.

However, unlike others, it seems at first to have far less harmful side effects and be less addictive in the long term, and could very well prove to be an exciting development in the treatment of cocaine addiction.

Source: The Telegraph

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New Cocaine Addiction Treatment on the Horizon: A Bacterial Enzyme

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