Cocaine – a medicine first, drug later

Understanding the medical benefits of cocaine can be difficult if all we hear about is the use of cocaine as an addictive drug. Cocaine has other uses as well.

Cocaine is a substance with two fold applications – it can be used as an impressive brain stimulant that can increase brain function, and it can also be used as a means to quench one’s substance abuse addiction. It has extremely addictive features and is derived from the leaves of a plant known as Coca, which can be found in the southern part of the United States of America. The material is available in the form of a powder that is similar to a powdered form of hydrochloride salt, usually sniffed in through the nose. This powder can also be diluted and used with a syringe as an injection.

As shown by our social surveys and research, the crystalline form of cocaine is usually known as crack. This form has not been mixed with any form of acids to transform it into a powdery material. This variant of crack cocaine is usually heated and the vapor is inhaled to get a wonderful but short term high. This is probably the most used version of cocaine, and is always high in demand in the market among regular users and abusers.

As we have explained on, similar to other stimulants, cocaine affects the central nervous system and boosts the production of dopamine in our brain. This dopamine is what causes the high that we feel if we use cocaine. The brain normally produces dopamine and the reabsorbs it, but the main effect of cocaine is to stop this reabsorption process, which increases the amount of pleasure signals created in our brain by dopamine. This is what a high is.

Abusive use of cocaine affects the body in a detrimental way. It dilutes the pupils, constricts the blood vessels, and increase in the size of the heart. The affect also increases an addict’s body temperature and blood pressure. Certain digestive issues may also arise if one uses cocaine abusively, leading to regular stomach pains.

Myths about cocaine and what people should know

People really fail to understand how dangerous cocaine is actually is. They just consider it to be a fancy drug, with minimal side effects. Let us now break this myth.

There is no falsehood in the fact that cocaine is an extremely addictive substance. There are no easy ways to identify whether a person is using cocaine on a regular basis or not, which is much simpler in the case of other addictions like alcohol and heroin. In fact, our latest study indicates that users can get addicted to cocaine from the very first use. This complicates things a lot. It is considered to be one of the most widely abused drugs available in the market. There are a lot of false myths and rumours about cocaine, that exist among the general population.

Along with thinking that cocaine has no addictive properties, the general public is under the false impression that cocaine is only a rich people’s drug. It must be understood that like any other drugs or pills or substances, addiction to cocaine is an extremely dangerous thing and must be dealt with, with extreme care and precaution, and on an urgent basis. Movies usually showcase cocaine as a drug used in rich people’s parties. But in real life, every level of our society can afford cocaine addiction, without the barrier of profession, age, income, race and religion.

People, who sometimes check out our research work on, are often under the impression that cocaine is an absolutely safe and secure drug. But what they do not know is that cocaine can lead to several side effects, which can cause a number of physiological disorders. Cocaine abuse and addiction must be treated right away at a rehab so that the person’s life can be saved by getting rid of the addiction. Families should make sure that if anyone in their home is an addict, they should talk to a doctor right away and book a room for the addicted family member at the best possible rehab centre.

Using cocaine – a knowledge not worth remembering

Cocaine users have come with unique and innovative ways to use cocaine as an addictive drug. Let’s read some more about these ways.

Through our numerous studies, we have seen that the main and perhaps the most important sign that an individual is using cocaine is the fact that a cocaine addict will do anything he or she can to get the drug and continue the abusive use. They usually seem to care much less about what happens at school or how they are performing at their office or how their familiar relationship suffers – all they care about is cocaine or crack.

Some of the most popular ways to use cocaine is to sniff it with a rolled up dollar bill, injecting it in a diluted form, and smoking in a cigarette. Crack cocaine is usually heated and the vapor is inhaled in order to get the same effect. When someone sniffs in powdered cocaine through the nose, the powder is mixed with the bloodstream present with the nasal tissues. In case of the injection, the cocaine is diluted and a syringe filled with the diluted mixture is injected directly into the bloodstream, thereby getting the desired results quite quickly.

Here at, we did some research and found out that crack cocaine, which is heated for inhaling the resultant vapor, is usually processed with sodium bicarbonate and ammonia along with water. It is then heated to extract the hydrochloride, thereby producing the resultant substance that can be easily used through inhalation. The word crack is derived from the sound that the crystalline cocaine makes when it is heated, which usually means that the sodium bicarbonate is heated.

Other than being a dangerously addictive drug, cocaine is also used as a stimulant for the central nervous system, that affects the reabsorption rate of dopamine, thereby creating a sense of heightened pleasure in our mind – more commonly known as a “high”. The main symptoms of cocaine usage are increased body temperature, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, hyperactivity, lack of stress or fatigue and panic.

Cocaine addiction and a history of cocaine

Cocaine is an extremely addictive drug that has caused many families to break off and have ended several lives as well. Let us look at a background profile on this substance.

Cocaine, a notoriously addictive white powder, is derived from the leaves of the coca plant found in southern United States of America and South America. These leaves were used in earlier times by the Mayans to act as a brain stimulant. But knowledge of other qualities of these leaves was spread all across Europe after Spain conquered South America.

Usually considered to be a brain stimulant, there are many ways of ingesting cocaine, as has been shown in our previous studies. It can be smoked, injection in to the blood vessels, or sniffed or snorted through the nose. Devoid of the way that it is consumed, the effects of cocaine in any form is always the same. But it has been seen from research that out of the total global population, almost 90% uses it as a brain stimulant, whereas the remaining 10% uses cocaine as an addictive drug, who frequently take the drug, say, every week.

The immediate after effects of cocaine are irritation and excitement, along with restlessness and lack of sleep. The following state of effects includes hyper anxiety, delusions and extreme irritation and short temper. The delusion part mainly feels like insects crawling on the skin of the addict. The physiological disorders faced by a cocaine addict usually include high blood pressure, fast breathing, highly dilated pupils and increased heart rate.

Cocaine treatment is a simple medical and psychological procedure to cure cocaine addiction in the best possible way. We have added more details about our research work at newspsychology. There are several drug rehabs all over the country that help people to get rid of their addiction. Several psychologists and doctors are present at these rehabs, and they are always ready to help out an addict in getting cured and getting better. Every addict has the right to get rid of his or her addiction – and that is what these rehab centres do.

How the cocaine works in the brain?

Cocaine works by increasing the amount of dopamine, a chemical associated with feelings of pleasure, in the brain. Dopamine is part of the brain's reward pathway, and it's released to encourage animals to repeat behaviors, typically those that are key for survival such as eating and reproduction. Researchers have known that cocaine blocks the brain's ability to reabsorb dopamine, increasing its excitatory effects on neurons of the drug reward pathway.
In the new study, the research team shows that cocaine's impact on neurons does not fully explain the drug's dramatic effects on reward. In laboratory studies involving rats and mice, the scientists demonstrated that a second mechanism in the brain potently contributes to the abuse potential of cocaine. The second mechanism centers on glial cells, the key component of the brain's immune system. Cocaine binds to glial cells at a location called Toll Like Receptor 4 (TLR4). The glial cells then trigger an inflammatory response in the brain, exciting neurons and further increasing the amount of dopamine pumped into the brain.
"We've demonstrated conclusively that cocaine interacts with TLR4 to produce a pro-inflammatory effect in the brain," said Alexis Northcutt, a CU-Boulder research associate in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and lead author of the paper. "The effect is necessary to convey the drug's rewarding effects. Without it, reward is greatly reduced."
The research team found that blocking the ability of cocaine to bind to TLR4 dramatically reduces the rewarding effects of cocaine. That finding suggests that blocking TLR4 on glial cells could be a therapeutic approach for treating drug abuse.
Previous research in the lab of CU-Boulder Professor Linda Watkins, the senior author of this study, has shown that a drug known as (+)-naltrexone, can be used to keep opioids from binding to TLR4.
"We found the same results when studying cocaine, which means the same drug, (+)-naltrexone, might be useful for treating a wider range of drug addictions," Watkins said. "The exciting news is that this drug is already in development by Xalud Therapeutics."
San Francisco-based Xalud Therapeutics, a CU-Boulder spinoff company based on Watkins' research, is currently moving (+)-naltrexone toward human clinical trials.
The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and the Department of Defense, as well as the Australian Research Council.

Story Source

  1. The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Referance

  1. A L Northcutt, M R Hutchinson, X Wang, M V Baratta, T Hiranita, T A Cochran, M B Pomrenze, E L Galer, T A Kopajtic, C M Li, J Amat, G Larson, D C Cooper, Y Huang, C E O'Neill, H Yin, N R Zahniser, J L Katz, K C Rice, S F Maier, R K Bachtell, L R Watkins. DAT isn’t all that: cocaine reward and reinforcement require Toll-like receptor 4 signaling. Molecular Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2014.177

study shows: new information on How plants make cocaine

Cocaine is one of the most commonly used (and abused) plant-derived drugs in the world, but we have almost no modern information on how plants produce this complex alkaloid. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have just discovered a key reaction in cocaine formation in the coca plant from South America, and identified the responsible enzyme. This enzyme was shown to belong to the aldo-keto-reductase protein family revealing some exciting new insights into the evolution of cocaine biosynthesis.  

Alkaloids constitute a very large group of natural nitrogen-containing compounds with diverse effects on the human organism. A large variety of plant-produced alkaloids have strong pharmacological effects, and are used as toxins, stimulants, pharmaceuticals or recreational drugs, including caffeine, nicotine, morphine, quinine, strychnine, atropine and cocaine. Atropine, used to dilate the pupils of the eye, and the addictive drug cocaine are both tropane alkaloids which possess two distinctive, inter-connecting five- and seven-membered rings.

Plants commonly produce tropane and other alkaloids for protection against herbivores and other enemies. Species in seven plant families are known to produce tropane alkaloids, including the Brassicaceae (mustard family), Solanaceae (nightshade or potato family) and Erythroxylaceae (coca family). These families are not closely related to each other. For example, it is assumed that the last common ancestor of the Erythroxylaceae and the Solanaceae lived about 120 million years ago. But how similar are the tropane alkaloid biosynthetic pathways in these families? Was there a single original tropane alkaloid pathway which was lost in most other plant families during the course of evolution? Or, did tropane alkaloid biosynthesis arise independently on several different occasions.

John D’Auria, project leader in the Department of Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, has been studying the coca plant, from which the drug cocaine is derived. Native tribes in South America have been cultivating coca and chewing its leaves for at least 8000 years for their stimulant and hunger-suppressing properties.

Although the formation of cocaine has not been investigated in the last 40 years, the biosynthesis of the related tropane alkaloid, atropine, from belladonna (Solanaceae) is well-established. In the penultimate step, a ketone function is reduced to an alcohol residue. This key reaction is catalysed by an enzyme of the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) protein family in belladonna. Among this group of enzymes are also many alcohol-degrading dehydrogenases in animals.

To find the corresponding enzyme in cocaine biosynthesis, Jan Jirschitzka, a PhD student in the group, searched the genome of the coca plant to look for SDR-like proteins. However, all the SDR genes that he cloned and expressed did not show any activity for the key reaction in cocaine formation. So he used a more classical approach − identifying the cocaine-synthesizing enzyme activity in extracts from coca leaves, purifying the responsible protein, isolating the polypeptide, and − after partial sequencing − cloning the corresponding gene.

“We obtained two very interesting results,” says Jonathan Gershenzon, director at the institute. “The enzyme reaction analogous to that in atropine synthesis − the conversion of the keto group into an alcohol residue − is catalysed by a completely different enzyme in coca plants as compared to that in the Solanaceae, namely by an aldo-keto reductase (AKR).” The enzyme was named methylecgonone reductase (MecgoR). AKR enzymes are known in plants and also mammals, amphibians, yeast, protozoa, and bacteria. They are involved in the formation of steroid hormones, for example. The second result is that the MecgoR gene, as well as the protein, is highly active in the very young leaves of coca plants, but not in the roots. Atropine, on the other hand, is synthesized exclusively in the roots of belladonna, from where it is transported into the green organs of the plant. Based on these results, the Max Planck researchers conclude that the tropane alkaloid pathways in coca and belladonna evolved completely independently.

Elucidation of the MecgoR-catalysed step in cocaine biosynthesis represents a major success, but the researchers are now continuing to investigate other important steps in the cocaine pathway. Also of interest is to learn how cocaine is stored in leaf tissue in such high amounts. This alkaloid can account for up to 10% of the dry weight of the immature coca leaf, a phenomenal amount for the accumulation of any one particular alkaloid.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, via AlphaGalileo.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Mechanism related to negative emotions of cocaine withdrawal discovered: Emotional 'brakes' stay on after cocaine wears off

Washington State University researchers have found a cellular mechanism that contributes to the lack of motivation and negative emotions of a cocaine addict going through withdrawal. Their discovery, published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a deeper look into the cellular and behavioral implications of addiction.

Bradley Winters, lead author of the PNAS paper and a freshly minted WSU doctor of neuroscience, says he, his major advisor Yan Dong, and colleagues at WSU, the University of Pittsburgh and the European Neuroscience Institute focused on cells that produce a signaling molecule called cannabinoid receptor 1, or CB1. Its main function is regulating the communication between nerve cells related to the functions like memory, motor control, perception, mood and appetite. Those same functions are affected by THC, the cannabinoid in its namesake cannabis, or marijuana.

"These receptors are not here just to make marijuana fun," says Winters. "Their main function is changes in how nerve cells communicate with each other."

The researchers studied the CB1 cells by producing a line of mice in which the cells that make CB1 were labeled fluorescently. The researchers could then identify the cells and target them with glass pipettes 1/100th the width of a human hair and record electrical currents they use to communicate with other nerve cells.

The CB1 cells act like brakes, slowing down activity in a brain region called the nucleus accumbens, which governs emotion and motivation.

"Cocaine causes profound cellular changes in the nucleus accumbens, but no one has ever looked at this type of cell, and these cells are important because they help organize the output," says Winters.

The researchers found that cocaine increases the excitability of the CB1 cells, in effect stepping on the brakes of emotion and motivation. When an addict is high on cocaine, the brakes are struggling to slow things down. The problem is, they stay on even when the cocaine has worn off.

"As you do cocaine, it speeds everything up, pushing you to a highly rewarding emotional state," says Winters. "It is kind of like going down a steep hill so you have to start riding that brake really hard. But then after the cocaine wears off and the hill levels out, you're still riding that brake just as hard. Now you're going down a regular, low-grade hill but you're going 2 mph because your foot is still jammed on the brake."

The result is a drag on the emotions and motivation of an addict in withdrawal — a drag that could be linked to sluggish activation of the nucleus accumbens.

"That state is like, 'I feel terrible and I don't want to do anything,'" says Winters. "You have the high and the crashing low and this low that you feel is what brings you back to the drug because you want to feel better and the drug is the only thing you feel motivation for."

Journal Reference:

  1. Bradley D. Winters, Juliane M. Krüger, Xiaojie Huang, Zachary R. Gallaher, Masago Ishikawa, Krzysztof Czaja, James M. Krueger, Yanhua H. Huang, Oliver M. Schlüter, and Yan Dong. Cannabinoid receptor 1-expressing neurons in the nucleus accumbens. PNAS, September 10, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1206303109

European drug use analyzed through raw sewage samples

 Surveys of drug use form an important basis for the development of effective drug policies, and also for measuring the effectiveness of existing policies. For the first time in history, scientists have now made direct comparisons of illicit drug use in 19 European cities by a cooperative analysis of raw sewage samples.

To date, questionnaire-based studies have been the most common measurement method. Such studies are performed amongst different segments of society including partygoers, drug addicts and the general population. Additional information is also acquired from police and customs seizure records, together with hospital admissions and medical data.

The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) in Oslo and the Mario Negri Institute in Milan led this research initiative, directly collaborating with 11 European research institutes. Raw sewage samples from 19 large European cities were collected by the participants of the study during a single week in March 2011 and analyzed for the urinary biomarkers of cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, methamphetamine and cannabis. The total amount of the drugs used by inhabitants of each of the 19 cities was measured and then the results were adjusted for population size.

The data show distinct temporal and spatial patterns in drug use across Europe. Cocaine use was higher in Western and Central Europe and lower in Northern and Eastern Europe. High per capita ecstasy loads were measured in Dutch cities, as well as in Antwerp and London. In general, cocaine and ecstasy loads were significantly elevated during the weekend compared to weekdays. Per capita loads of methamphetamine were highest in Helsinki, Turku, Oslo and Budweis, while per capita loads of cannabis were similar throughout Europe.

Dr. Kevin Thomas, NIVA Research Manager, coordinated the collaborative research project and believes that the measurements in the sewers are an important addition to the methods that exist today.

"There will always be some uncertainty about the reliability of the results of questionnaire-based studies," he said. "Our research approach based on sewer samples of European cities however, yield very accurate and dependable results on the total amount of drugs used. Through sewer research, we can determine how big the drug market in a city is. We can also quickly measure changes in consumption over very short time, such as after a police raid or a customs seizure. Our approach is applicable anywhere. With the right financing we have the potential for the first time to better understand the hard facts about illicit drug use worldwide," Thomas adds.

Gert-Jan Geraeds, Executive Publisher Environmental Science & Ecology at Elsevier said, "The importance of solid academic foundations to develop effective drug policies cannot be underestimated. I am impressed by the truly international, collaborative spirit that led this promising new method to support these foundations. It all comes together in this study: science and policy, on a local scale with global significance."

Journal Reference:

  1. Kevin V. Thomas, Lubertus Bijlsma, Sara Castiglioni, Adrian Covaci, Erik Emke, Roman Grabic, Félix Hernández, Sara Karolak, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Richard H. Lindberg, Miren Lopez de Alda, Axel Meierjohann, Christoph Ort, Yolanda Pico, José B. Quintana, Malcolm Reid, Jörg Rieckermann, Senka Terzic, Alexander L.N. van Nuijs, Pim de Voogt. Comparing illicit drug use in 19 European cities through sewage analysis. Science of The Total Environment, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.06.069

Waste water analysis reveals for the first time real time information regarding drug consumption in 19 European cities

Waste water analysis using urinary biomarkers allows the reliable detection of actual drug consumption in cities. For the first time, a wide group of scientists have carried out a comparative study regarding the consumption of illegal drugs in 19 European cities, four of which are Spanish, based on waste water analysis. In the case of Spain, cannabis and cocaine consumption is higher than that of other drugs such as methamphetamines and ecstasy, appearing in each of the four cities analysed: Barcelona, Castelló de la Plana, Santiago de Compostela and Valencia.

Research centres and universities from 11 European countries have participated in the study. In the case of Spain, the investigation was carried out by the University Institute of Pesticides and Waters at the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló (researcher responsible, Dr. Félix Hernández), the Department of Preventative Medicine at the Universidad de Valencia (Dr. Yolanda Picó), the Department of Chemical Analysis from the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Dr. Benito Quintana) and the Department of Environmental Chemistry, IDAEA-CSIC of the Institute for Environmental Diagnosis and Water Research (IDAEA) of the Scientific Research National Council (CSIC) in Barcelona (Dr. Miren López de Alda). The initiative for the study began in the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and from the Instituto Mario Negri de Investigación Farmacológica, in Milan.

To carry out the investigation, urban waste water was collected from a total of 19 European cities over the course of a week in March 2011. Urinary biomarkers for cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, methamphetamines and cannabis were used on the samples. The results were published July 2 6in the specialist journal Science of the Total Environment. The analysis allowed the estimation of drug consumption for each one of the 19 cities and the results were normalised according to the size of the city that was investigated. This means that larger cities, such as London or Barcelona, can be directly compared with smaller cities such as Castelló or Santiago de Compostela.

Amongst the main conclusions of the study, the researchers responsible for the investigation highlight the fact that the highest consumption of cocaine, expressed in milligrams consumed per day per 1000 inhabitants, corresponds to Antwerp, followed by Amsterdam, Valencia, Eindhoven and Barcelona. With regards to Castelló, consumption is similar to that of cities such as Utrecht or London, and slightly higher than Santiago, which is on the same level as Paris, Milan or Brussels. On the other hand, cocaine consumption in Nordic countries can be viewed as low. It is estimated that 365 kilograms is consumed daily, which represents approximately between 10 and 15% of worldwide cocaine consumption, according to estimates from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Organised Crime.

In contrast with cocaine, the consumption of methamphetamines is higher in the north and north-west of Europe, principally in Scandinavia and the Czech Republic. In general, in the group of drugs related to amphetamines, methamphetamines and amphetamines themselves are those which dominate in European waste water. In Castellón, neither of these two drugs was detected in the waters, whereas Barcelona, Valencia and Santiago showed levels which corresponded to mid/low consumption, lower than those levels in the north of Europe.

With regards to MDMA consumption, known as ecstasy, Castelló also appears to be low, as it was not detected in waste water. Ecstasy consumption in Valencia and Santiago is approximately half of that in Barcelona, but, in any case, much lower than consumption in countries such as Holland and Belgium.

Finally, it is important to signal that the highest level of cannabis consumption is in Holland, the highest rating of which is in Amsterdam, followed by France and Spain. Researchers consider that Spain's strategic position in marijuana trafficking has created a market for this substance. Along with Barcelona, smaller cites such as Castelló and Santiago show relatively high consumption levels, slightly higher than the consumption per capita in Valencia.

Drug consumption surveillance programs are extremely useful for the development of efficient police policies and to evaluate the effectiveness of current policies with regards to the fight against drug addiction.

Until recently, the most usual method to measure drug consumption was based on surveys. These studies are carried out in different sectors of society including consumers with different grades of addiction, such as the general population. Addition information is also obtained using police data for drug seizures, along with hospital information for admittence and other medical data. However, there is a noticeable uncertainty with regards to this information due to the lack of reliability of studies based on surveys, especially when dealing with illegal drug use. Furthermore, the results obtained circumscribe long periods of time (annually) and large geographical areas (states, in general).

The approximation employed in this investigation, analysing waste water from water purification plants (EDAR), have allowed the centres to obtain reliable information regarding total consumption of the drugs investigated in real time, according to the investigators responsible for the study.

Kevin Thomas, the NIVA researcher who co-ordinated this co-operative project, believes that the analysis of waste water provides important information relevant to the estimation methods which currently exist. "Via waste water investigation we can can estimate a city's drug consumption. Furthermore, we can quickly measure changes in consumption habits over a short period of time. For example, we can determine if there has been a massive drug disposal via drainage when police raids or drugs seizes take place," the researcher explains.

The methodology used in this project has been applied to a second study carried out in several European cities in 2012. This strategy is applicable in any other country or city. "With the necessary economic support, we have the opportunity to be able to better understand, for the first time, what worldwide drug consumption currently is, trends, or the introduction of new drugs onto the market via the study of biomarkers in waste waters," researchers inform us.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kevin V. Thomas, Lubertus Bijlsma, Sara Castiglioni, Adrian Covaci, Erik Emke, Roman Grabic, Félix Hernández, Sara Karolak, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Richard H. Lindberg, Miren Lopez de Alda, Axel Meierjohann, Christoph Ort, Yolanda Pico, José B. Quintana, Malcolm Reid, Jörg Rieckermann, Senka Terzic, Alexander L.N. van Nuijs, Pim de Voogt. Comparing illicit drug use in 19 European cities through sewage analysis. Science of The Total Environment, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.06.069

Modeling of new enzymes helps develop therapies for cocaine abuse

Researchers from the University of Kentucky have designed and discovered a series of highly efficient enzymes that effectively metabolize cocaine. These high-activity cocaine-metabolizing enzymes could potentially prevent cocaine from producing physiological effects, and could aid in the treatment of drug dependency.

The results of this study by Chang-Guo Zhan et al are published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.

The effectiveness of the enzymes' work was evaluated through modeling cocaine pharmacokinetics, the study of the body's action on administered external substances, such as cocaine, when the enzyme exists in the body. As there is no FDA-approved anti-cocaine medication, the medical and social consequences of cocaine abuse have made the development of anti-cocaine medication a high priority.

Administration of an enzyme to enhance cocaine metabolism has been recognized as a promising treatment strategy for overdose and abuse. A remarkable feature of the enzyme-based therapeutic approach is that one enzyme molecule can degrade many thousands of drug molecules per minute.

This pharmacokinetic modelling is a crucial step of enzyme-based therapy development for cocaine abuse. Furthermore, the general insights of the research should also be valuable for future development of an enzyme therapy for any addictive drug, as the general methodology of the modelling may be used to develop valuable models for evaluating the effectiveness of metabolic enzymes in detoxifying other drugs.

Journal Reference:

  1. Zheng F, Zhan C-G. Modeling of Pharmacokinetics of Cocaine in Human Reveals the Feasibility for Development of Enzyme Therapies for Drugs of Abuse. PLoS Comput Biol, 2012 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002610