By Kara Morris
THURSDAY, Nov. 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Researchers report that they have created a vaccine to combat fentanyl addiction, in a potential breakthrough in the opioid epidemic.
The shot will block the ability of fentanyl to enter the brain and cause the “high” that users crave. Scientists said it could be used to prevent relapses in people trying to quit opioids once they pass clinical trials.
said study author Colin Haley, associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics.
“Our vaccine is able to produce fentanyl antibodies that bind to spent fentanyl and prevent it from entering the brain, allowing it to be removed from the body by the kidneys. Thus, the individual will not feel the effects of the high and can ‘get back on the bandwagon’ to sobriety,” Haley explained in a university news release. .
The team tested the drug on animals, but plans to begin manufacturing a clinical-grade vaccine in the coming months and begin human trials. However, research on animals is not always successful in humans.
More than 150 people die every day in the United States from overdoses from synthetic opioids including fentanyl. About 80% of people who try to quit will relapse.
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Even a small amount, 2 milligrams, has the potential to cause death.
Scientists created the vaccine using a derivative of coli bacteria, to help boost the immune response to the vaccine.
The fentanyl antibodies were specific for fentanyl and the fentanyl derivative, and did not interact with other opioids, such as morphine. This means that a person vaccinated will still be able to be treated for pain relief with other opioids.
Even people who don’t usually consume fentanyl but use other medications sometimes experience fentanyl overdoses because the drug is often added to street drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, fake benzodiazepines like Xanax, and other opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
The researchers noted that opioid use disorder is treated with a combination of medications, including methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.
This new vaccine could be a “game-changer,” said Therese Costin, director of the Developmental, Cognitive, and Behavioral Neuroscience Program at the University of Houston (UH).
“Fentanyl use and overdose are special therapeutic challenges that are not adequately addressed with current medications because of their pharmacodynamics, and management of acute overdose with short-acting naloxone is not suitably effective given that multiple doses of naloxone are often required to reverse the potentially fatal effects of fentanyl. said Kosten, who was a senior author of the study.
Other members of the research team include Greg Cooney, professor of drug discovery at Ohio University College of Pharmacy and researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, also both in Houston.
The results were published online recently in the journal Pharmaceuticals.
Funding was provided by the US Department of Defense through the Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders Program administered by the Medication Treatments for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders Alliance of RTI International.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on preventing opioid use disorder.
Source: University of Houston, press release, November 14, 2022