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A vaccine for modern living

A vaccine for modern living

作者:关忘羞  时间:2019-03-01 04:06:06  人气:

By Jim Giles FOUR years ago, a group of drug users turned up at the Yale School of Medicine. Most were hooked on crack cocaine, a highly addictive form of the drug. All of them wanted to quit. “They came to us because their lives had gotten screwed up by the drug,” says Thomas Kosten, an expert in drug addiction who worked with the addicts. The odds were not in their favour. More than 2 million Americans take some form of cocaine regularly, and most find it extremely hard to kick the habit. Even if an addict stays off the drug for months, a single “hit” in a weak moment causes the cravings to surge, and the addiction can take over their lives again. The cocaine users who enrolled in Kosten’s trial also had weak moments. For a few of them, though, something extraordinary happened when they snorted or injected the drug: it had no effect. Kosten had vaccinated them against cocaine, and antibodies to the drug were circulating around the addicts’ bloodstreams, ready to neutralise cocaine molecules. The addicts were protected against cocaine in the same way that childhood vaccinations protect much of the world from polio and measles. And with the help of the vaccine, several of the addicts were drug-free by the end of Kosten’s study. Vaccines are one of the most successful medical inventions. Without them, you might not have been around to read this – your ancestors could have been killed by plagues such as smallpox. Now the hope is that this technology can also treat modern health scourges,