Efficacy of a therapeutic cocaine vaccine in rodent models

Nat Med. 1996 Oct;2(10):1129-32. doi: 10.1038/nm1096-1129.


Cocaine abuse is a major medical and public health concern in the United States, with approximately 2.1 million people dependent on cocaine. Pharmacological approaches to the treatment of cocaine addiction have thus far been disappointing, and new therapies are urgently needed. This paper describes an immunological approach to cocaine addiction. Antibody therapy for neutralization of abused drugs has been described previously, including a recent paper demonstrating the induction of anti-cocaine antibodies. However, both the rapidity of entry of cocaine into the brain and the high doses of cocaine frequently encountered have created challenges for an antibody-based therapy. Here we demonstrate that antibodies are efficacious in an animal model of addiction. Intravenous cocaine self-administration in rats was inhibited by passive transfer of an anti-cocaine monoclonal antibody. To actively induce anti-cocaine antibodies, a cocaine vaccine was developed that generated a high-titer, long-lasting antibody response in mice. Immunized mice displayed a significant change in cocaine pharmacokinetics, with decreased levels of cocaine measured in the brain of immunized mice only 30 seconds after intravenous (i.v.) administration of cocaine. These data establish the feasibility of a therapeutic cocaine vaccine for the treatment of cocaine addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage
  • Cocaine / immunology*
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Haptens / administration & dosage
  • Haptens / immunology*
  • Immunotherapy, Active*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / immunology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Self Administration
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / administration & dosage
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / immunology
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Haptens
  • Vaccines
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Cocaine