Will There be a Heroin Vaccine in Our Future?
Scientists have made a major step regarding a vaccine that blocks the high of heroin. After having successful trials with laboratory rats, the researchers moved their testing to primates. The results from these trials were also favorable, which makes this particular vaccine more successful than any other trials in the past.
Due to the growing need for more advanced treatment and prevention methods regarding heroin, researchers throughout the world have been working on some type of vaccine that could prevent heroin abuse from ever starting. This is important because opioids are so powerful that a person can become addicted after only a few consecutive uses. Vaccines allow the body to reject the drug, without the user feeling the euphoric high of the opioids in the first place.
Heroin Intervention as Prevention
Once the vaccine is administered, the body’s immune system is exposed to parts of the heroin structure. This allows the cells to create antibodies against the drug. So, if heroin is ingested after receiving the vaccine, the antibodies attack the heroin molecules before they ever reach the brain. This interception prevents the user from ever feeling a high from heroin.
And while the research is still in the developing stages, there is quite a bit of excitement regarding the possibilities of such a treatment. “This validates our previous rodent data and positions our vaccine in a favorable light for anticipated clinical evaluation,” explained Kim Janda, lead author of the study.
However, this vaccine only fights heroin, it does not respond to any other opioids, like painkillers. And while painkillers are still a major problem in this country, it is a positive step forward to tackle the growing heroin problem.
Although the vaccine has not been tested on humans yet, researcher are optimistic about a human trial in the near future. These attempts come at a time where overdoses from heroin and other drugs are continually reaching new peaks, and many are wondering if they will start to decline any time soon. In the wake of the thousands of lives lost each year do heroin overdoses, all interventions, treatments and prevention options should be considered.