Could Gene Therapy Help Defeat Meth Addiction?

A picture of a scientist performing an experiment.

For many years, scientists have been experimenting with gene therapy as a way to treat genetic diseases and cancer. Now this DNA-altering process may be a viable option for treating meth addiction by blocking the high that the drug produces.

A team of researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences have packaged a gene code that makes the body generate antibodies against methamphetamine. When this gene is injected, the antibodies bind to and trap methamphetamine molecules circulating within the blood to prevent it from traveling to the brain and creating a high.

So far, the procedure has been successfully tested on lab mice, where the therapy lasted for over eight months. This reduced the amount of meth in the brain and limited the effects of the drug. The long-term hope is that this would be a treatment that could be used in conjunction with behavioral therapies to help people with meth addiction. People who used meth after receiving the gene therapy would not get as high as expected.

As promising as this new research is, it’s much too early to tell how effective this treatment would be on human subjects.