Researchers are developing a vaccine that can block the effects of the opioid fentanyl. This breakthrough could help the heroin and prescription opioid abuse epidemic in the U.S. Deaths involving these drugs increased 200 percent in 2014 according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A vaccine like this could make treatment easier because it blocks the effects of the drug altogether. Did you know that certain substance abuse treatment centers in Wilmington NC can help you beat your heroin or opiate addiction? Call Legacy Freedom today to learn more.
Fighting Opiod Addiction with Vaccines
The study was done on mice that were injected with the vaccine three times over the course of six weeks. The ingredient of the vaccine was the drug itself, but it was modified so that the immune system would recognize it. Researchers used fentanyl because it is one of the strongest opioids available, and one that has seen a recent increase in overdoses.
Fentanyl is a painkiller that is 50 to 500 times more potent than morphine. With it being tweaked and sold on the black market, it is far more dangerous because there is no way to tell how strong it is.
The vaccine mimics the drug’s core structure, but when injected into the mice, their immune systems produced antibodies to fight it. They bind with the drug and keep it from reaching the brain.
After the mice had been given all of the injections, they found the mice couldn’t get high, no matter how much fentanyl they gave them. When they viewed the mice’s blood under a microscope and mixed it with fentanyl molecules, they found that the antibodies killed the drug molecules. This led them to conclude that the antibodies could stop the drug in the bloodstream before it reached the brain and produced the high.
Even a month later, most of the vaccinated mice did not respond to the drug, even a lethal dose of it. Researchers were surprised to see that the vaccine protected the mice against overdose because of the way it neutralized the levels of the drug.
This particular vaccine wouldn’t work for other forms of opioids such as heroin or oxycodone. Many of the street drugs are mixed with other drugs, so it wouldn’t work in cases of someone who had a drug that contained another opioid. Research hasn’t been done on humans, so while it’s a promising discovery, it’s still in initial stages of development.
Researchers say the next step is producing one that combines other opioids since many times heroin and fentanyl are cut with each other.
The president recently asked Congress for more than $1 billion to help fight the opioid epidemic, and if it is passed, new funding could help research. Some funds have been earmarked for expansion of treatment programs, including programs that use medication such as methadone to wean addicts off of opioids.
A vaccine like this could help in treatment programs and reduce relapse. The theory is that by blocking a user’s ability to feel the effects of the drug, it will cause them to crave it less and reduce their patterns of drug-seeking behavior.
Reliable Substance Abuse Treatment Centers in Wilmington NC for Opiate Abuse
Is your family troubled because of a loved one’s addiction to opiates? Tired of searching for substance abuse treatment centers in Wilmington NC that offer cookie cutter therapy programs? Call Legacy Freedom Treatment Center of Wilmington to speak with a counselor today. Our approach to recovery includes the family members of our patients because we know how important it is to have a support system when you’re struggling with something as traumatic as an addiction to heroin or opiates. We offer the best outpatient therapy so patients don’t have to be taken away from family during treatment. Call us today.