One day, drug addicts could be ‘vaccinated’ against heroin – with a vaccine which blocks the ‘high’ of the drug for months at a time.
The treatment took a step closer this month as a vaccine developed by The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) proved effective in a trial with rhesus monkeys.
The vaccine works for up to eight months – and had no side effects, the researchers say.
The researchers hope that recovering addicts could be given a long-term ‘immunity’ to heroin – keeping them safe from relapsing.
The vaccine works by exposing the immune system to a part of the heroin molecule’s telltale structure.
This teaches the immune system to produce antibodies against heroin and its psychoactive products.
The antibodies neutralize heroin molecules, blocking them from reaching the brain to cause a feeling of euphoria.
‘This validates our previous rodent data and positions our vaccine in a favorable light for anticipated clinical evaluation,’ said study leader Kim Janda.
‘We believe this vaccine candidate will prove safe for human trial.