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An Antidote for Acute Cocaine Toxicity

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journal contribution
posted on 02.04.2012, 00:00 by Jennifer B. Treweek, Kim D. Janda
Not only has immunopharmacotherapy grown into a field that addresses the abuse of numerous illicit substances, but also the treatment methodologies within immunopharmacotherapy have expanded from traditional active vaccination to passive immunization with anti-drug monoclonal antibodies, optimized mAb formats, and catalytic drug-degrading antibodies. Many laboratories have focused on transitioning distinct immunopharmacotherapeutics to clinical evaluation, but with respect to the indication of cocaine abuse, only the active vaccine TA-CD, which is modeled after our original cocaine hapten GNC, has been carried through to human clinical trials. The successful application of murine mAb GNC92H2 to the reversal of cocaine overdose in a mouse model prompted investigations of human immunoglobulins with the clinical potential to serve as cocaine antidotes. We now report the therapeutic utility of a superior clone, human mAb GNCgzk (Kd = 0.18 nM), which offers a 10-fold improvement in cocaine binding affinity. The GNCgzk manifold was engineered for rapid cocaine clearance, and administration of the F­(ab′)2 and Fab formats even after the appearance of acute behavioral signs of cocaine toxicity granted nearly complete prevention of lethality. Thus, contrary to the immunopharmacotherapeutic treatment of drug self-administration, minimal antibody doses were shown to counteract the lethality of a molar excess of circulating cocaine. Passive vaccination with drug-specific antibodies represents a viable treatment strategy for the human condition of cocaine overdose.