When you hear about "Ice", "Shaboo" or "Crystal Meth" know that these are some of the most popular synthetic drugs in the world, as well as the most dangerous. These are all active ingredients deriving from methamphetamine, a sympathomimetic that literally bombards the brain with dopamine. According to the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, there are as many as 25 million users and addicts to these substances worldwide.
A team of scientists at the Scripps Research Institute managed to obtain a positive result in the use of a vaccine against methamphetamine which (for now on guinea pigs) totally blocks its effects.
[highlight] How it works - [/ highlight] The vaccine enables the immune system to attack the methamphetamine molecules when they are still in circulation in the bloodstream, preventing their access to the nervous system: this 'cuts' the effects on the patient's brain and removes the incentive aspect, the feeling of pleasure that stimulates extreme addiction.
Usually, methamphetamine molecules are too small to 'alert' the body and produce a response from some antibody: this vaccine being tested, called M6, is able to bind another, larger molecule to methamphetamine, which causes the body's response: once in circulation, the antibodies make a 'clean sweep' of both the larger molecule and those of methamphetamine.
[highlight] The test - [/ highlight] On rats in the laboratory M6 blocked both typical effects of synthetic drugs (loss of control over body temperature, increased physical activity) and also eliminated any feeling of addiction.
New studies on guinea pigs are planned, and human tests are around the corner: it could be just a few months away.