AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: #drugabuse

Miracle Drug for Drugs?

A fascinating new drug called CSX-1004 may be the cure to the fentanyl epidemic. Scientists who have recently discovered the drug have been conducting experiments on monkeys to fully grasp the effects of the drug before they begin their human trials. If the drug is found effective, there could be a revolution in the fight against drugs.

 Understanding Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic drug that is nearly 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors, receptors responsible for pain reduction, emotions, and breathing regulation. Opioid receptors are G-coupled receptors. As we learned in AP Biology, the G protein receptor is first activated by a ligand, triggering the G protein to activate. The activated G protein causes GDP to turn into GTP. Then, the G protein binds with adenylyl cyclase, triggering ATP to become cAMP. The cAMP triggers the activation on Protein Kinase A, finally, triggering a response. In the case of fentanyl, fentanyl is the ligand. Typical responses of the drug include a feeling of euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, respiratory depression, confusion, and unconsciousness. The drug targets parts of the brain that control reward, causing users to take more of the drug. As abuse continues, the brain is no longer able to naturally produce dopamine, the neurotransmitter that binds to the opioid receptors. An addict quickly becomes reliant on drugs to give them the happiness and pain regulation that they once naturally had.

Antibody IgG1 surface


CSX-1004 is an antibody that binds to fentanyl in the blood, stopping a great majority of it from reaching target receptors in the brain. As we also learned in AP Biology, antibodies are part of the humoral response and fight against infections. B-Plasma cells, which patrol the plasma, secretes antibodies. These antibodies bind to and neutralize the pathogen until a macrophage engulfs and destroys an antibody-coated pathogen. In conclusion, if CSX-1004 can bind to and neutralize fentanyl, it can potentially be killed or weakened before reaching receptors in the brain!

The Study

Scientists gathered groups of squirrel monkeys and began by giving them increasing doses of fentanyl over 28 days. They found extreme respiratory conflicts at the higher doses. They then repeated the experiment for another month. This time, they treated the monkeys with one dose of CSX-1004. They found that the dose decreased respiratory harm by 15% at all doses of fentanyl.

Timeline. Drug overdose death rates by sex, United States

The Future

If CSX-1004 is found effective and safe for humans, we could be looking at a decline in fentanyl addiction and deaths. Scientist Andrew Bennet stated that “If we can block the high produced by fentanyl, gradually people will stop using it as they realize it is not doing anything”. Fentanyl has been named the most dangerous illegal drug and was responsible for 28.8% drug related deaths in 2018. Drugs have a higher mortality rate than gunshots and automobile accidents. Does this statistic shock you? This is why drugs like CSX-1004 are so important to be in the works. CSX-1004 could be the key needed to prevent more lives lost at the hands of fentanyl.

Cocaine’s Abuse on the Body: How Far Does it Go?

Cocaine powder on black table | 🇩🇪Professional Photographe… | FlickrCocaine pictured above

When it comes to cocaine, there is a long list of the drastic. negative effects it has on the human body–not only physically, but mentally as well. When we see major celebrities such as Mac Miller, Don Rogers, and Whitney Houston pass from a cocaine overdose, what do you think plays a part in it?

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug, which first arose in the US in the late 1800s. It can be snorted, injected, rubbed in one’s mouth, and smoked. It is made from the coca plant of South America. It raises our dopamine levels which cause us to feel joy and relief, however, it damages the natural communication cycle in our brain, leading people to take highter and more frequent doses in an attempt to achieve the same high as when they first began using.

Effect of cocaine on our bodies

Short-term health effects of cocaine include, but are not limited to:

  • extreme happiness and energy
  • mental alertness
  • hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch irritability
  • paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others

Some long-term effects of cocaine abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • headaches
  • extreme weight loss
  • cardiac complications such as irregular heartbeat, cardiomyopathy, and acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • loss of smell/olfactory function
  • mood swings
  • movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease
  • paranoia
  • auditory hallucinations
  • irregular heartbeat
  • death by overdose
On a cellular level…

Once in our system, cocaine rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to various plasma membrane transporters on neurons. Neurons are the main focus here, as our brains are comprised of 3 to 6 layers. What are they? They are “the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system, the cells responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, for sending motor commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step in-between” (Queensland Brain Institute). Neurons contain cytoplasm, mitochondria and other organelles. Neurons carry out basic cellular processes such as protein synthesis and energy production. Regarding basic cell types and structure, neurons have a cell body comprised of a nucleus and cytoplasm, and also have a mitochondria. The nucleus produces ribosomes which are involved in protein production. The cytoplasm acts as a suspension medium for organelles, and the mitochondria is involved in complex processes of neurotransmission. Overall, this cell body is essential to the neuron’s function as it carries genetic information, maintains the neuron’s structure, and provides energy to drive important cellular activities.

File:Blausen 0657 MultipolarNeuron.png - Wikimedia CommonsNeuron structure pictured

Or, to put it very simply, cocaine alters our brains and DNA in a complex manner, relating to several neurotransmitter systems, leading to seizures and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as the more mild symptoms listed above.

Crack and cocaine users: are they bad?

Yes, crack and cocaine use is objectively terrible. They can alter our behavior, emotions, physical abilities, and our future children in drastic ways. However, it is important not to villainize those suffering from substance abuse. Rather, we should focus on what causes these people to turn to drugs. Systemic racism plays a large role in who uses and is distributed crack/cocaine. Lack of access to mental healthcare is yet another factor. As a society, we need to do better and be aware of all these things. If you or someone you know may be susceptible or vulnerable to drug abuse, please contact the Substance Abuse National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.




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