The modeling of new enzymes helps develop therapies for cocaine abuse

July 26, 2012

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 per minute.

This pharmacokinetic modelling is a crucial step of enzyme-based therapy development for . 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 in detoxifying other drugs.

Explore further: Research indicates that a common heart drug may reduce cocaine cravings

More information: Zheng F, Zhan C-G (2012) Modeling of Pharmacokinetics of Cocaine in Human Reveals the Feasibility for Development of Enzyme Therapies for Drugs of Abuse. PLoS Comput Biol 8(7): e1002610. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002610

Related Stories

A therapy for cocaine toxicity

April 26, 2010

Cocaine toxicity due to drug overdose results in more than half a million emergency room visits annually. Despite these alarming statistics, there is no Food and Drug Administration-approved pharmacotherapy specifically designed ...

Recommended for you

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.