New enzymes that are highly efficient in metabolizing cocaine have been identified and designed by researchers at University of Kentucky.
These high-activity cocaine-metabolizing enzymes could potentially prevent cocaine from producing physiological effects, and could aid in the treatment of drug dependency. The results of this study by Chang-Guo Zhan et al are published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
The effectiveness of the enzymes' work was evaluated through modeling cocaine pharmacokinetics, the study of the body's action on administered external substances, such as cocaine, when the enzyme exists in the body. As there is no FDA-approved anti-cocaine medication, the medical and social consequences of cocaine abuse have made the development of anti-cocaine medication a high priority. Administration of an enzyme to enhance cocaine metabolism has been recognized as a promising treatment strategy for overdose and abuse. A remarkable feature of the enzyme-based therapeutic approach is that one enzyme molecule can degrade many thousands of drug molecules per minute.