Keeping the Drug Out of the Brain
The researchers confirmed that the vaccine sequesters heroin and 6-acetylmorphine in the bloodstream, keeping it out of the brain. The vaccine did not block the effects of methadone, buprenorphine and other opioid-receptor-targeting drugs that are commonly used in addiction therapy. "It doesn't affect the opioid system per se, so in principle you could give this vaccine to heroin-dependent people and continue to treat them with standard therapies, too," Schlosburg said. "Opioid painkillers such as codeine or oxycodone also would continue to work."
Janda notes that in some other trials of drug vaccines and therapies, rats have been known to compensate for the reduced drug effects by doubling or tripling their intake. "But with this heroin vaccine, they don't try to load up more heroin to beat the vaccinewhich is pretty impressive," he said.
Janda expects to make minor changes to the heroin vaccine for trials in humans, but said, "We think it's now about as good as it can be." He is now actively seeking a pharmaceutical company partner to sponsor those clinical trials and, assuming that they go well, to eventually market the vaccine.
|Contact: Mika Ono|
Scripps Research Institute