Bacteria makes cocaine-killer drug

By Terrapinzflyer · May 4, 2010 ·
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Bacteria makes cocaine-killer drug

    A new medicine that can break down cocaine and its metabolic products 1000 times faster than the human organism has been created. The enzyme derived from coca plant dwelling bacteria can be used to treat drug overdose.

    So far doctors have no efficient way to mediate the toxicity of cocaine and its by-products, so patients suffering from cocaine overdose are treated for the symptoms, not the cause. However, researchers at the University of Michigan in collaboration with Columbia University and the University of Kentucky have fabricated a potential drug which can do that very job.

    The cocaine esterase (CocE) is naturally produced by soil bacteria found around the roots of the coca plant. The enzyme metabolizes cocaine and its by-products similarly to how the human enzyme counterpart does it, but at a much greater speed.

    However, natural CocE is unstable, so researchers had to tinker with it to keep it efficient at human body temperature. The modified drug was tested successfully on rodents. It degrades cocaine and two of its metabolites, norcocaine and cocaethylene, and remains efficient in the presence of co-abused substances like alcohol and nicotine.

    Study author Remy L. Brim presented the results at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting on Monday.

    Published 27 April, 2010, 11:17

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