Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Chang-Guo Zhan


Cocaine abuse is a world-wide public health and social problem without a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication. An ideal anti-cocaine medication would accelerate cocaine metabolism producing biologically inactive metabolites by administration of an efficient cocaine-specific exogenous enzyme. Recent studies in our lab have led to discovery of the desirable, highly efficient human cocaine hydrolases (hCocHs) that can efficiently detoxify and inactivate cocaine without affecting normal functions of central nervous system (CNS). Preclinical and clinical data have demonstrated that these hCocHs are safe for use in humans and effective for accelerating cocaine metabolism. However, the actual therapeutic use of a hCocH in cocaine addiction treatment is limited by the short biological half-life (e.g. 8 hours or shorter in rats) of the hCocH.

In the investigation described in this thesis, we have demonstrated that mCocH and hCocH have improved the catalytic efficiency of mBChE and hBChE against cocaine by ~8- and ~2000-fold, respectively, although the catalytic efficiencies of mCocH and hCocH against other substrates, including acetylcholine (ACh) and butyrylthiocholine (BTC), are close to those of the corresponding wild-type enzymes mBChE and hBChE. In addition, we have identified the first benzoylecgonine-metabolizing enzymes that can hydrolyze benzoylecgonine and accelerate its clearance in rats. The developed LC-MS/MS method has enabled us to simultaneously determine cocaine and nine cocaine-related metabolites in whole blood samples.

In development of the long-acting hCocHs, we have designed and discovered a novel hCocH form, catalytic antibody analog, which is an Fc-fused hCocH dimer (hCocH-Fc). The hCocH-Fc has not only a high catalytic efficiency against cocaine, but also a considerably longer biological half-life. A single dose of hCocH-Fc was able to accelerate cocaine metabolism in rats even after 20 days and, thus, block cocaine-induced hyperactivity for a long period of time. In consideration of the general observation that the biological half-life of a protein drug in humans is significantly longer than that in rodents, the hCocH-Fc could allow dosing once every 2-4 weeks, or longer for cocaine addiction treatment in humans.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)