Heroin addiction worldwide debilitating epidemic (pandemic to be precise) which costs United States alone, approximately $22 billions a year, in terms of medical care, social welfare, criminal activity, loss of productivity etc. Heroin addiction, as well as addiction and abuse of other drugs is one of the driving forces of spread of HIV.
Researchers and scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have developed a vaccine against heroin addiction, which shows great and promising result after initial animal studies. The researchers involved in the research study are euphoric about the vaccine as they could prove therapeutic potential in animal models in laboratory. The study of vaccine against heroin was published in the official website of The Scripps Research Institute. The same research team has previously created vaccines (using immune molecules to blunt the effects of abused drugs) against cocaine, methamphetamine, and nicotine and at present the human clinical trials are under way for the cocaine and nicotine vaccines.
The vaccine against the commonly abused drug heroin is one of the first of its kind and has shown great and promising results, which can be an effective deterrent against not only heroin addiction and abuse, but also against other psychoactive compounds metabolized from heroin (such as morphine and 6-acetyle morphine) from reaching the brain by crossing what is called blood brain barrier (BBB) to produce euphoric effects in the heroin addict. The researchers saw specific and robust response from the vaccine and hope (we all also hope) to make it available for use soon.
How the vaccine against heroin act?
The vaccine uses an innovative method called “immunopharmacotherapy”, which produce antibodies (immune molecules of protenaceous nature) against heroin as well as other psychoactive compounds which are metabolized product of heroin and prevent from reaching brain to produce the famed euphoric effects of heroin. Heroin is rapidly degraded to 6-acetyle morphine and than to morphine. A vaccine has to be effective against 6-acetyle morphine and morphine to be effective against heroin and the vaccine against heroin is exactly as required.
Researchers also report that the vaccine against heroin is highly specific, meaning that it produce antibodies against 6-acetyle morphine and heroin and do not produce antibodies against other commonly used opioid drugs for therapeutic purpose such as methadone, naltrexone, and naloxone (all these are used for treatment of opioid dependence and heroin addiction), as well as oxycodone.