Cocaine-Eating Enzyme Could Cure Addiction and Overdoses

Posted on June 25, 2014

Photo: flickr

Certain bacteria found in the dirt near coca plants are powered by an enzyme that eats cocaine. Unfortunately, the enzyme breaks down quickly at body temperature, meaning it can't be used to treat human overdoses or addiction. Now, though, researchers have designed a version that can survive body temps - and more than doubles its cocaine appetite.

Scientists have long been investigating ways to harness cocaine esterase's drug-chugging power for therapeutic use. It's been difficult, in part because the naturally-occurring enzyme has a 12-minute half-life at human body temperatures. Researchers at the University of Kentucky previously created an improved enzyme with a six-hour half life at body temperature that's in clinical trials. Now they've upped the ante considerably, with a carefully-designed mutant that can survive over 100 days at body temp. It also dismantles cocaine 150 percent more efficiently than the wild enzyme.

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Category(s):Addictions

Source material from Gizmodo


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