16 November 2022

Let's protect drug addicts!

A vaccine has been developed that blocks the ingress of fentanyl into the brain

Svetlana Maslova, Hi-tech+

Fentanyl is one of the strongest synthetic opioids, an overdose of which can quickly lead to death. Scientists from the United States have developed a vaccine that promises to change the rules of the game in the opioid epidemic. Successful preclinical results of the experimental drug accelerated the start of clinical trials.

According to statistics, every day more than 150 people die from an overdose of synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. A dosage of only about 2 mg of fentanyl can lead to a fatal outcome. Fentanyl is particularly dangerous due to the fact that it is often added to street drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine and even fake benzodiazepines such as xanax.

In this regard, overdoses are possible even in those people who do not use opioids, scientists explain, although most cases occur in addicted people. It is estimated that about 80% of people relapse.

A vaccine developed at the University of Houston with the help of antibodies blocks the penetration of fentanyl into the brain, eliminating the euphoria reaction.

The substance is excreted from the body through the kidneys, allowing a person to stay sober. It is important to emphasize that fentanyl-binding antibodies did not cross-react with other opioids, so a vaccinated person can continue to take opioid analgesics to treat pain.

In experiments on rats, no side effects from vaccination were recorded.

Currently, scientists are preparing to conduct clinical trials. They hope that a promising vaccine can change the rules of the game in the opioid epidemic in the world.

Article Haile et al. An Immunconjugate Vaccine Alters Distribution and Reduces the Antinociceptive, Behavioral and Physiological Effects of Fentanyl in Male and Female Rats is published in the journal Pharmaceuticals – VM. 

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