So far no vaccine or drug approved by US Federal Drug Authority, FDA is available to treat cocaine addiction. ?Researchers (scientists) failed to tune the sensitivity of the antibodies production in our immune system to stop the brain hyperactivity due to lack of vaccine biomolecule design,? said Dr. Rajagopal Appavu, a research scholar at Texas University, who headed the team of scientists to develop the vaccine. ?We are the first team to develop an antibody in the blood stream that effectively stop cocaine molecule from reaching the brain.
Dr. Rajagopal told Indian Science Journal, the vaccine developed by them is 100% safe and effective.� The key elements of the vaccine are self-assembling proteins/peptides and modified cocaine molecule (not original cocaine molecule). It was tested effectively on mice. ?After the ELISA analysis, we got significantly powerful antibody response against cocaine,? he said. ?This is the first such method for vaccine development and experiments in mice showed 100 per cent result. We are now moving towards clinical trials.?
Dr. Rajagopal hails from Salem district of Tamil Nadu and is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that can cause significant health problems including overdose and death. Since signs of cocaine abuse are similar to the symptoms of other health issues, it can be difficult to find whether someone is using cocaine. Short-term effects of cocaine abuse include violent behaviour, increased heart beat, increased rate of breathing, disturbed sleep, hyperstimulation, depression, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, stroke and death.
Though cocaine is not popular amongst drug addicts, enforcement agencies have seized 14.68 kgs of the substance in 2014 (no later data is available), which incidentally is far less than the seizure of 47 kgs a year earlier.
Cocaine abuse in India is more prevalent among the rich and the influential. It primarily grows and is cultivated in the South American countries like Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, from where, it is trafficked throughout the world. Although the drug is finding its markets in the developing countries, the primary markets still are North America and Europe.
Additional inputs: Indian Narcotics Control Bureau and Wikihow.com
Image courtesy: Dr. Rajagopal Appavu