Biotech Updates

Mutated Cocaine Esterase Enzyme can be the Potential Cure for Cocaine Overdoses

July 9, 2014

A mutated enzyme is now the newest weapon in the battle against cocaine overdoses and addiction. Cocaine esterase is a natural enzyme that breaks cocaine down into its inactive components. However, the enzyme only survives just 12 minutes at a normal human's body temperature, rendering it useless. Researchers from the University of Kentucky now focus on studying this enzyme.

From their research, they were able to generate strengthened mutations of the enzyme still containing its cocaine-busting properties. The mutations have increased the half-life of cocaine esterase to 100 days at body temperature, and boosted its cocaine metabolizing efficiency by 150 percent, 1,000 times faster than the human body.

Researchers then gave five mice a single injection of a mixture containing the mutant enzyme. This was followed by lethal injections of cocaine, to simulate overdosing, until they died. Two mice died after four days, and the remaining two mice died after six. Although all mice died, it was the longest time that a single dose of the mutant enzyme staved off fatal overdoses.

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