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January 2010


News and Events December 2009
Social Work Today, November/December 2009 Vol. 9 No. 6
Can a Cocaine Vaccine Reduce Drug Use?

By Joyce Parker, Ph.D.


The Magazine Social Work Today, reports on a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry that a vaccine to treat cocaine dependence has been shown to reduce the use of the drug in a group of individuals whose bodies can attain a high level of anticocaine antibodies. Animal and human studies have suggested that high levels of anticocaine antibodies in the blood can reduce the euphoric effects of the drug without causing serious side effects or dangerous interactions with other drugs. Bridget A. Martell, MD, MA of Yale School of Medicine and colleagues did a 24 week phase 2b trial of a vaccine which increased levels of cocaine antibodies in the blood. 115 cocaine dependent individuals participated with a random selection of 58 who received five vaccinations of the active vaccine. 57 individuals received a placebo injection over 12 weeks. Urine was tested three times a week for metabolized cocaine. Of the 55 participants who received the vaccine, 21 (38%) attained blood levels adequate to experience an effect. Those individuals who attained these blood levels had significantly more cocaine free urine sample than those who did not and those who were in the placebo group. However it took approximately three months to raise antibody levels. Therefore supportive treatment such as Cocaine Anonymous, Methadone Maintenance and Drug Treatment programs need to be used until the therapeutic levels are achieved. Optimal treatment would also require repeated booster vaccinations to maintain appropriate antibody levels.



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