With over 150 deaths a day caused by the overdosing of synthetic opioids, many are calling for more attention to be paid to this ever growing epidemic. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is treatable but the issue is relapse, with 80% of users experiencing relapse. Many with OUDs suffer relapse and without access to the right care and recovery, treatment cannot be guaranteed. “Current treatments for OUD are methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone, and their effectiveness depends upon formulation, compliance, access to medications and the specific misused opioid.”
A vaccine recently developed by a research team led by the University of Houston, “target[s] the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl [and] could block its ability to enter the brain, thus eliminating the drug’s “high.”
“‘We believe these findings could have a significant impact on a very serious problem plaguing society for years—opioid misuse.
“Our vaccine is able to generate anti-fentanyl antibodies that bind to the consumed fentanyl and prevent it from entering the brain, allowing it to be eliminated out of the body via the kidneys.
“Thus, the individual will not feel the euphoric effects and can ‘get back on the wagon’ to sobriety,” said the study’s lead author Colin Haile, a research associate professor of psychology at UH and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES), and a founding member of the UH Drug Discovery Institute.”
With the added hope that the vaccine did not cause any adverse side affects in the first clinical trials with rats, this vaccine could change the future of the growing epidemic. Human clinical trials are set to begin soon.
Fentanyl has become increasingly and especially dangerous with many more common street drugs being found with traces of fentanyl, otherwise, laced. These counterfeit drugs cause overdoses in those who do not normally consume opioids and are become more present.
With no interactions with other drugs, such as morphine, patients can still be safely treated for pain relief should they need to be.
In the coming months and years, as the opioid epidemic grows, a vaccine that could stop it in its tracks could save millions of lives and put a brighter outlook on what seems to be an unsolvable issue.
Source: Neurosciencenews.com: https://neurosciencenews.com/fentanyl-vaccine-21835/