British Biotech Firm Encouraged by Addiction Vaccine Results

The British biotechnology firm Xenova is so encouraged by research on a new vaccine for cocaine addiction that the company is now working on developing vaccines for heroin and ecstasy, the Times of London reported June 15.

The results of the phase-two study on the cocaine vaccine, code-named TA-CD, showed a 58 percent success rate among patients during the 12-week study period. After six months of getting the vaccine, 42 percent of subjects remained cocaine-free.

“We are obviously going to look into whether the treatment can be exploited in other small-molecule drugs, such as heroin and amphetamines,” said David Oxlade, chief executive of Xenova.

The vaccine works by alerting the immune system of the presence of cocaine molecules in the blood. The vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that bind to the cocaine molecules. The molecules then become too big to cross the blood-brain barrier, preventing intoxication.

Results from a third TA-CD trial is expected in 18 months. If successful, the vaccine could be available in 2007 or 2008.

Xenova is also working on an anti-smoking vaccine.