By Solomon Snyder, M.D. – Johns Hopkins Medicine. Working with mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins have contributed significant new evidence to support the idea that high doses of cocaine kill brain cells by triggering overactive autophagy, a process in which cells literally digest their own insides. Their results, moreover, bring with them a possible antidote, an experimental compound dubbed CGP3466B.

summary of the study, which also found signs of autophagy in the brain cells of mice whose mothers received cocaine while pregnant, will be published online the week of Jan. 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We performed ‘autopsies’ to find out how cells die from high doses of cocaine,” says Solomon Snyder, M.D., professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “That information gave us immediate insight into how we might use a known compound to interfere with that process and prevent the damage.”

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