CRISPR and stem cells can treat drug addiction

The use of such powerful drugs as cocaine creates a nightmare situation for medicine - even if the patient suddenly wants to be healed, due to the abundance of side effects, this is almost impossible to do. There are many methods of stopping certain factors of drug addiction, but with complex treatment, doctors have to literally show creative skills and rely on inspiration. Something like that was done at the University of Chicago when they developed their innovative three-step method.

It is based on the work of other specialists: an enzyme for splitting cocaine, a CRISPR tool and suppression of immunity during transplantation of genetically modified skin fragments. Scientists cut off a piece of skin from an experimental mouse, removed stem cells from it and reprogrammed them using CRISPR so that they began to abundantly generate the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase, which breaks down cocaine. After that, it only remained to return the modified skin fragment to its place and the mouse received personal bio-protection from this drug.

Butyrylcholinesterase is already present in mammals, but in too small amounts to withstand traditional doses of cocaine. However, after reprogramming, its concentration increases significantly, and, more importantly, a constant replenishment of the body with this substance is started. Single injections are useless here, it is precisely a systemic method of exposure that is needed - the experimental mice eventually learned to deal with cocaine so much that they even survived the introduction of a lethal dose of the drug.

And no immune response, the body accepted its own, albeit genetically modified cells, without rejecting. Normal blood flow was restored in the transplanted skin areas, the tissues began to grow and unite with each other. The result of the experiment was recognized as completely successful, the technique was recommended for testing in humans and, in the future, for the treatment of drug addiction. Not only from cocaine, but also from alcohol, opioids, nicotine and other addictive substances.