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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Chen

UFMG Vaccine Calixcoca that Fights Addiction to Crack Cocaine is Rewarded with $2.6 Million Reais

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Brazil marks a glorious occasion for the Federal University of Minas Gerais, UFMG, for winning the Euro Innovation Health Award following their development of a vaccine against crack cocaine addictions. The voting of various doctors in 17 different countries brought the university to surpass 11 other finalists and be rewarded 500 thousand euros, an equivalent to R$2.6 million reais. 

Frederico Garcia, a professor in the department of Psychiatry at UFMG displayed not only the university’s pride, but Brazil’s on stage. Garcia stated that “UFMG is, today, a university that is making a difference,” and that “we can only thank the support of our dean (Sandra Regina Goulart Almeida) and our dean of research (Fernando Reis) (...) This achievement represents a great victory for the UFMG research community and for Brazilian science.”

The Euro Innovation Health Award is organized by Eurofarma, a Brazilian multinational corporation known to be one of the biggest medicament producers in Latin America operating in 22 different countries.

The vaccine functions by preventing the cocaine in one's bloodstream from reaching the blood-brain barrier (BBB for short), a collection of blood vessels that connect to the central nervous system. It does so by inducing the production of antibodies in the immune system which later bind to the cocaine substances and expands the drug’s size so that it physically cannot go through the BBB.

As for its public use, the vaccine has been verified to be safe and effective in treating addiction and the impacts unborn babies face when its carrier is exposed to cocaine. The developers of the vaccine have said it “still has a long way to go, and this award encourages us to continue working so that the vaccine completes all its development stages,” therefore meaning that the world has yet to expect better outcomes than the ones we’ve seen so far.

Although it currently cannot be counted on to solve the entirety of the cocaine crisis, Calixcoca is a step forward in treating the socioeconomic problems surrounding the use of drugs in Brazil and around the world. Garcia sympathizes with women who face the challenges of abstinence when leaning off substance abuse and the pain of those around drug users; finally, he states that its “our mission is to take care of these issues.”

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