LA JOLLA, CA Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have developed a highly successful vaccine against a heroin high and have proven its therapeutic potential in animal models.
The new study, published recently online ahead of print by the American Chemical Society's Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, demonstrates how a novel vaccine produces antibodies (a kind of immune molecule) that stop not only heroin but also other psychoactive compounds metabolized from heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.
"In my 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, I haven't seen such a strong immune response as I have with what we term a dynamic anti-heroin vaccine," said the study's principal investigator, Kim D. Janda, the Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry and a member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research. "It is just extremely effective. The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin."
"We saw a very robust and specific response from this heroin vaccine," said George F. Koob, chair of the Scripps Research Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders and a co-author of the new study. "I think a humanized version could be of real help to those who need and want it."
A Worldwide Epidemic
While injection drug abuse is a debilitating worldwide epidemic, heroin abuse and addiction are especially destructive, with costs estimated at $22 billion in the United States due to loss of productivity, criminal activity, medical care, and social welfare, the authors say in their study.
Heroin abuse and addiction are also driving forces in the spread of HIV through needle sharing.
Using an approach termed "immunopharmacotherapy," Janda and his Scripps Research colleagues previously created vaccines that used immune molecules to blunt the effects of other abused drugs
|Contact: Mika Ono|
Scripps Research Institute