Annual Report 2001 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

07 Preventing Cocaine Poisoning

George P. Hess, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Genetics, and research team developed a new technique—laser-pulse photolysis—which led to the discovery of compounds involving RNA that could provide treatment for cocaine poisoning. The new technique may have implications for nerve cell reactions in diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinsonism, as well. Hess synthesized artificial RNA compounds that prevent cocaine from blocking proteins essential for normal functioning of the nervous system. Laser-pulse photolysis let researchers study the electrochemical activity of the protein—active only for a few milliseconds—in the effort to find compounds that would prevent cocaine from blocking these crucial proteins for brain function. Identification of the RNA compounds enables the design of smaller and more stable compounds for treating cocaine poisoning. Cocaine abuse affects approximately 5 million users in the U.S. and costs many billion dollars every year to deal with it.

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© 2002 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University.

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