Researchers at the University of Houston, Tulane University and Baylor College of Medicine announced that they may have made a breakthrough in the fight against the opioid epidemic, which they have dubbed a “vaccine against fentanyl.”
In a new study, scientists administered the vaccine, later following up with two booster doses, to rats. They later administered fentanyl to the same rats. The doses did not penetrate the brains of the vaccinated rats, preventing the “high” associated with the substance, along with the lethal consequences.
“If the drug does not get into the brain, there are no effects. There are no euphoric effects, and there are no lethal effects as well,” said University of Houston Associate Professor Colin Haile, who led the study.
Haile said the vaccine is designed for addicts who are consistent users of fentanyl, but potentially could protect other individuals who may be inadvertently exposed, if it proves effective in further trials, according to ABC 13.
Fentanyl has become a leading cause behind record-high opioid overdose deaths in the United States, particularly when it is mixed with other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. More than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the last year, a historic number.
The researchers say the vaccine did not cause any adverse side effects in the mice it was tested on.
Tulane University School of Medicine researchers developed an adjuvant derived from E. coli called dmLT. The adjuvant boosts immune response to vaccines and is crucial to effectiveness of the shot, according to the University of Houston.
The study critically revealed that the antibodies built up by the vaccine were specific to fentanyl, meaning they did not halt the effectiveness of other opioids that may be legitimately used to treat addicts, such as morphine.
“The fact that they’re doing research to find these things gives us hope, because we have to do something. What we’re doing today is not working,” Greenhouse Treatment Center’s Philip Van Guilder told ABC 13.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.