NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are an estimated 2 million cocaine users in the United States and a new medical study could provide help and hope for those looking to quit.

vaccine designed to treat cocaine addiction will be tested in humans after animal studies proved successful.

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“The way the vaccine works is it blocks the cocaine from reaching the brain,” Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “The vaccine induces antibodies like little Pac-men, they are anti-cocaine Pac-men, and so it binds up the cocaine and prevents it from reaching its receptors within the brain.”

The vaccine was developed at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.  Crystal calls it a major breakthrough.

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“There is no therapy for cocaine addiction,” said Crystal, who has been working on the vaccine for nearly a decade. “Most attempts before in terms of trying to develop drugs for cocaine addiction were to work in the brain itself.”

Investigators are looking for 30 cocaine users to take part in the clinical study, which is expected to last more than two years.

“While we know that this works very well in animals, now we need to find out if the vaccine will cause enough anti-cocaine antibodies to be produced so that it works in humans, too,” Crystal said.

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To enroll in the study or for more information, please contact Aileen Orphilla at 646-962-2672 or email