RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian researchers working to develop a vaccine against cocaine addiction have begun test trials on animals.
The vaccine has been under development for more than two years, one of the lead researchers told reporters earlier this week.
"We are developing a molecule to stimulate the production of antibodies by the immune system against cocaine," said professor Angelo de Fatima, of the Organic Chemistry department at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).
"These antibodies bind to the cocaine, preventing it from reaching the brain (and) reducing the drug's euphoric effects, which is what will lead users to lose interest in its use," said De Fatima.
Similar research is being done in the United States, but with what could be a decisive difference, said the researcher.
"Our molecule is different from the American one. Ours doesn't have the protein part," said De Fatima, who declined to provide further information since the Brazil team's molecule "has yet to be patented."
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), cocaine use in Brazil is four times higher than the world average.