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Vaccine Shows Promise Against Heroin Addiction in Animal Model


A new vaccine shows promise in heroin addiction treatment, a study in rats suggests. Medical News Today reports scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, have developed a vaccine which produces antibodies that prevent heroin from reaching the brain to produce feelings of euphoria.

“The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin,” study lead author Kim D. Janda said in a news release.

The vaccine targets not only heroin, but also the chemical it degrades into, which also produces an effect on the brain. The researchers found that rats addicted to heroin were less likely to give themselves heroin by pressing on a lever if they had received several booster shots of the vaccine, compared with addicted rats who did not receive the new vaccine.

The study appears in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

The Scripps Research Institute has begun working with researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research on development of a vaccine against both HIV and heroin addiction, the article notes.

6 Responses to this article

  1. ChrisKelly / July 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

    We already have two effective treatments for opiate addiction – methadone and buprenorphine.

    As Cheryl noted……what it the person needs pain control? Will the vaccine block that too?

    And how do you tell that rats are ‘addicted”??????? i thought addiction was “biopsychosocial”???????

  2. cheryl / July 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    My question is, OK so what if someone with said addiction problem takes this vaccine and then, for example, gets in a terrible auto accident, the patient then needs pain control medicine, would that patient’s brain block the effects of the much-needed pain medication? Just a thought. I am a little wary of drugs that block the pleasure centers of the brain. Many people thought Chantix was the panacea for quitting cigarettes and it turned out that many people became very depressed and some, suicidal on the medication.

  3. Fred C / July 22, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Heroin has the lowest success rate for recovery of any drug. (The rumor that cigarettes are as hard to quit as heroin is just ridiculous)And the idea that the Feds are trying to protect people from themselves is just as ridiculous. As an LPC specializing in substance abuse I tell you that some of these addicts would give almost anything for an option to quit that really works.

  4. John French / July 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Come on folks, how many thousands of drugs give people pleasurable feelings and are thus candidates for “vaccines”? I say we use the DEA approach to the max, and ban Earth Air, Fire, and Water. Then the pharmaceutical industry can take a break, and the Feds can stop funding these will o’ the wisp attempts to protect people against themselves.

  5. Avatar of Profbam
    Profbam / July 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Amperozide-HCl works. Addicts in Scandinavia steal the drug from the pig farmers to get clean (farmers use it to reduce aggression between piglets, but then the pigs won’t eat fermented swill).

  6. Avatar of Steffenie
    Steffenie / October 23, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Just so everybody knows, the vaccine only works on heroin. Also, I think anyone who has a known history of opiate addiction would probably receive an alternative pain-management medication anyways.

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