The discovery of Cocaine esterase, CocE, a naturally occurring bacterial enzyme could be used to tackle cocaine addiction, claim scientists.
This discovery has been hailed as possible method of helping addicts get off cocaine, reports The Telegraph.
The bacterial enzyme worked by breaking down cocaine which reduced its addictive properties, the experts discovered.
In the rat-based study, scientists found that the bacteria was only active in the body for a short while but a more stable version double mutant bacterial version known as DM CocE was more effective.
Professor Friedbert Weiss, of The Scripps Research Institute which conducted the study, said: "These therapeutic approaches may therefore not be 'fail-safe' for reducing cocaine intake by determined users but long-acting forms of CocE represent potentially valuable treatment approaches not only for the prevention of cocaine-induced toxicity but also for ongoing cocaine abuse in humans."
The findings were published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.