Instead of using drugs or surgery, gene therapy is the modern experimental technique to treat or prevent any genetic disease. But a team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences thinks that the same phenomena can be used to treat the disease of addiction by counteracting the high therapeutic concentrations that methamphetamine (METH) produces (In this context we should remember that currently there are no medications available to treat methamphetamine abuse disorders).
According to a report published in MIT Technology Review:
Eric Peterson, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology, in association with his colleagues, have packaged a gene that codes for an anti-methamphetamine (METH) antibody into an engineered virus. When injected, the therapy makes the body generate antibodies against METH. The antibodies bind to and trap METH molecules that are circulating in the bloodstream, preventing them from traveling to the brain and triggering pleasurable feelings. In mice, researchers showed that the therapy lasted for over eight months, reducing the amount of METH in the brain and the stimulant effects caused by the drug.
Peterson says that he hopes “A drug based on the approach could be used with behavior therapies to treat people addicted to METH. If people tried to use METH after they had received the gene therapy, they wouldn’t feel the high therapeutic concentrations they expected.”