According to the Australian Drug Foundation, 8.1 per cent of Aussies aged 14 years and over have used cocaine one or more times in their life and 2.1 per cent in the same age bracket have used cocaine in the past 12 months.4

 Cocaine, also referred2 to as “coke, cola, bump, snow, stardust or nose candy” by drug users, is a drug that is can cause dry mouth, enlarged pupils, high blood pressure, high body temperature, reduced appetite and indifference to pain.2 Its long-term effects include insomnia, depression, anxiety, hypertension, hallucinations, heart disease and death.2

New studies reported January 19, 2016 from John Hopkins University1 have revealed the drug cocaine can cause the brain to cannibalise itself, when used in a high dose.

Researchers from this study used mice as patients to test whether high doses of cocaine would cause their brain to ‘eat’ its own cells. In a separate investigation, scientists experimented giving pregnant mice cocaine to see if the autography in the brain from the cocaine would be transferred over to the baby.

Dr Prasun Guha, a post doctoral fellow in the School of Medicine and the lead author of this study describes autography as “the housekeeper that takes out the trash—it’s usually a good thing. But cocaine makes the housekeeper throw away really important things, like mitochondria, which produce energy for the cell.” [1]

From previous research and tests by these scientists, the results revealed a gas in your brain cells called nitric oxide and an enzyme called glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase3 (GAPDH) were involved in the autography process of the brain after cocaine consumption. They also knew that the experimental compound CGP3466B was proven to disrupt nitric oxide/GAPDH interactions. 1 So they tested the compound CGP3466B to see if the cocaine-induced autography would be stopped in the process.1

Their results indeed confirmed that CGP3466B worked to protect the mice’s nerve cells from death by cocaine.1

Due to these results, it is hopeful to believe that the compound could lead to treatments for brain damage associated with cocaine use, however, more tests for both mice and humans are necessary to gain the correct information before creating a treatment to counteract this effect on the brain.

[1] Hub, January 19, 2016 ,

2 Drug Info, October 1, 2014,

3 National Centre of Biotechnology Information, January 14, 2016,

4 Drug Info, N/A, 2016,