Drug Abuse Vaccine

Designer antibodies may someday be used to immunize people against cocaine and other drugs to block the rush that users crave.

If these vaccines fulfill their promise, they could revolutionize emergency treatment for PCP and amphetamines. And though they won't cure addiction, they could also help people who want to kick the habit, researchers say.

The illegal drugs all have molecules so tiny they sneak unnoticed through the body's immune system. To create antibodies, researchers must hook the molecule to a protein big enough to set off the immune system's alarms.

The drug-plus-protein can be injected directly, to prompt the body to make its own antibodies. Or scientists can create the antibodies by working with laboratory animals and inject the antibodies into patients. Antibodies could be used to treat an overdose or block a drug's effects for a longer period, perhaps a month or more.

The ability to bind the drugs to antibodies could be a major leap forward in treatment, said Frank Vocci, head of medications development for the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism.

Scientists involved in the research discussed their work yesterday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans.

Already, one cocaine vaccine, developed by a biomedical company in Massachusetts, is being tried on people at a Connecticut clinic. So far, only the safety has been tested, and it had virtually no side effects, said Thomas Kosten, a psychiatry professor at Yale University and chief of psychiatry for the Veterans Administration in Connecticut.

Retirement's Stressors

Retirement may be a way to escape conflict with your boss and co-workers, but it may generate friction with someone else--your spouse.

Cornell University psychologists reported yesterday that retirement can spark marital discord and depression instead of leisurely lunches and relaxing trips to the golf course.

The solution for many men: Go back to work.

Jungmeen Kim and Phyllis Moen, who studied 534 married men and women ages 50 to 74, found that men who retired while their wives were still working showed a higher level of marital stress than newly retired men whose wives did not work. The happiest men were the ones who found another job and whose wives were not working.

Among women, starting retirement posed a risk of depression, especially if their husbands were still working. But getting another job didn't seem to help.

Kim said there is evidence from other studies that the conflict arises because contentious issues that the husband and wife were able to avoid when one of them worked become harder to avoid when both are retired.