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Heroin Vaccine: It Could Be Coming Soon

Posted on :  December 31st, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

While we at Towards Recovery enjoy helping people with opioid addictions recover in a safe and supportive setting, we do look forward to the day when no one ever has to suffer from an addiction to a debilitating substance like heroin. That day could be closer than we think, now that researchers have released information about a preclinical vaccine that prevents opiates from getting to rodents’ brains.

Preclinical Vaccines for Opioid Addiction

A researcher from the University of Minnesota shared this vaccine with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists at their annual conference in November 2014. Marco Praveloni, from the University of Minnesota called the preclinical vaccine 60XY-KLH. He revealed the vaccine could eventually help people who are addicted to opiates like heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. He also revealed that creating an anti-opioid vaccine is difficult, especially because the vaccine needs to work with both chemistry and immunology in the human body.

How the Vaccine Needs to Work

Since many people with addictions take different types of drugs, the vaccine needs to be able to versatile. The vaccine needs to work with, not against, methadone treatments. It also needs to help people manage the pain that comes with their opioid addiction, since the opioid receptors in the brain do affect pain in the body. Praveloni is hoping to find funding to keep working with the preclinical vaccine. You can read more about the vaccine here.

Changing the Way Addiction is Perceived

It is fascinating to think of a world where a simple vaccine can help people with addictions. Now we only think of vaccines as tools to prevent us from developing serious illnesses like diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough. With a vaccine that will help prevent addictions, the way that we view addictions could seriously change.

Current Injectable Treatments

There are already injectable treatments for addictive drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and nicotine. These are not vaccines, but they do help fight addiction by getting the body to produce antibodies that fight the drug’s attempt to infiltrate the brain. When drugs are ingested, the molecules get into the brain and create the high by affecting the receptors in the brain. The injected treatments alter the molecules so they cannot create the high, thus voiding the typical behavior of the drug. The molecules attach to the antibodies so they are removed from the body before they can hit the brain.

Removing the Chance of Dangerous Overdoses

When antibodies work against the drug, the person taking the drug no longer has a chance to overdose. The body’s immune system is not overtaxed and brain chemistry remains the same. Respiratory failure is often the result of an overdose, but with the injected antibodies, this is no longer a worry. Researchers have seen the injected antibodies work on laboratory rats. They are first given a deadly dose of heroin after they have been injected with the antibodies. The rats show no signs of being high from the heroin.

Exciting News for Addicts

This exciting news will not only affect heroin addicts, but cocaine and nicotine addicts, too. Researchers have tested a cocaine antibody that has prevented the drug from reaching the brains of primates. Cigarette smokers have been asking for a vaccine, but researchers have not yet found one that works in humans.

How Vaccines Work

Even though addictions are different than diseases, the vaccines for both work in relatively the same way. Any vaccine relies on a protein or other molecule. When that protein or molecule enters the body, the vaccine goes to work. It notices the pathogen and attacks it. Long-term vaccines are capable of doing this several times, so the immune system can constantly win the war against pathogens. The only difference between vaccines for addictions and vaccines for diseases is that the addiction vaccines need to work on the brain because that is where addiction develops.

With all of the work that researchers are doing, we at Towards Recovery are hoping for another beneficial treatment for anyone who has been traumatized by the dangerous addiction to opioids. If you have any questions, contact Towards Recovery Clinics at 905-527-2042.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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