Text Size
Smaller
Bigger
Drug Treatments

Researchers Say They’ve Developed an Effective Heroin Vaccine

Comments (1)
posted 02:17 AM EST, Thu July 21, 2011

Researchers at The Scripps Institute say they’ve got an experimental heroin vaccine in the works, and based on the results of animal testing experiments, it looks like it just might work.

Drug abuse vaccines work by teaching the immune system to recognize certain drugs as molecules to be targeted for destruction. If the immune system can target and destroy a drug that is consumed, (like cocaine, nicotine or heroin) before it can exert its effects in the brain, then there is little reason for a person to use drugs. In this way, researchers hope that drug vaccines might prove effective tools in a personal battle against drug addiction.

Scientists have been working on a heroin vaccine for a while, but previous attempts have shown little promise. The problem has been that heroin is metabolized by the body very quickly into a number of psychoactive substances, all of which work together to create the heroin high.

So the Scripps team developed a vaccine that would target not only the heroin molecule, but also the chemical compounds that heroin degrades into, such as morphine and 6-acetylmorphine, and initial animal testing indicates that this new approach works very well.

  • Heroin addicted rats which were given the vaccine developed antibodies to heroin and its metabolites and after vaccine administration pressed a heroin self administration lever less frequently than heroin addicted rats who were not given the vaccine.

In commenting on the success of the vaccine, lead study author Kim D. Janda, raved about the possibilities, saying, "In my 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, I haven't seen such a strong immune response as I have with what we term a dynamic anti-heroin vaccine. It is just extremely effective. The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin."

The full study results can be read in the current edition of The American Chemical Society's Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category
Story Highlights
  • Heroin Vaccine: Take a vaccine and you'll no longer be able to get high from heroin.
  • Animal Testing Looks Good: Rats given a heroin vaccine used less heroin than unvaccinated rats.
Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Information
How Heroin Changes Your Mind
Heroin Addiction: Physical Dependence + Addiction Brain Changes = A Tough Drug to Beat © IllusionWaltz
Withdrawal symptoms don't tell the whole story. Learn why persistent cravings make heroin so tough to quit. Read Article
Addictions February 17, 2014 (5)
Heroin Addiction in the Family - Supporting Change
Supporting a Heroin Addict - 6 Ways to Help and Support Positive Change © Jim Nix
Six effective ways to help a treatment-ready heroin user that you love make positive changes - what to do and how to help. Read Article
Living With An Addict January 07, 2016
Heroin Harm Reduction Advice: A User Guide Here are 50+ heroin harm reduction tips... because anything that prevents overdose and keeps you alive and healthy increases the odds of finding eventual lasting recovery. Read Article
Harm Reduction December 05, 2014 (1)
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.