The Future is Sober –
February 15, 2020 – The results are promising enough that the FDA has approved plans to proceed with human clinical trials. Beginning more than 20 years ago, scientists have worked to engineer a new version of a human protein that could break down cocaine so quickly that it doesn’t produce an addictive high. We all have the normal human protein BChE that helps regulate neurotransmitters, and which can slowly break down cocaine. Targeted mutations in BChE can turn it into a super-CocH – a protein that can quickly break down cocaine. When this CocH is injected into the bloodstream, it breaks down cocaine very fast – before the user can experience the pleasurable effects – so a dose of cocaine is less rewarding. Being less rewarding means it is easier to stop using cocaine. Previous research has shown that injections of the super-CocH protein drastically decrease addictive behavior in cocaine-addicted rats. That’s great. But the problem is that daily CocH injections would be too expensive and difficult to maintain for the years needed to prevent cocaine relapse for human users.