Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
ADME Tox
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Vaccine for Heroin Addiction

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Heroin addiction has proven especially hard to treat through vaccination because of the speed it metabolizes in the body.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been working to develop vaccines for drug addiction since the early 1990s. Currently, TSRI vaccines for cocaine and nicotine addiction are in clinical trials, with one for methamphetamine nearing the research phase. 

A TSRI research team led by Professor Kim Janda and Professor George F. Koob, who chairs TSRI's Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, has developed a vaccine that successfully prevents heroin from reaching the brain. In trials, the vaccine caused heroin-addicted rats with access to an unlimited supply of the drug to stop taking it. 

"Heroin-addicted rats deprived of the drug will normally resume using it compulsively if they regain access, but our vaccine stops this from happening," said Dr. Koob. If the vaccine proves as effective in human trials, it could help heroin addicts committed to recovery; heroin addiction is estimated to affect more than 10 million people worldwide. Because heroin is often injected, users who share syringes are not only at risk for fatalities from overdose, but also of contracting many other diseases including HIV and hepatitis C. 

The TSRI vaccines treat drug addiction by causing the immune system to treat the drug molecules as a pathogen, like a bacteria or virus, and to send out antibodies to bind to them and neutralize them before they enter the brain – where they cause the high that addicts crave. Common drug molecules are too small and simple to stimulate the immune system sufficiently on their own, but vaccine designers affix key fragments of the molecules to larger more immune-provoking carrier proteins. 

Designing an effective vaccine against heroin has been particularly challenging because the drug breaks down rapidly in the bloodstream into 6-acetylmorphine and morphine. The TSRI team had to develop a vaccine that not only triggered antibodies for heroin, but these other molecules as well. 

"The vaccine effectively tracks the drug as it is metabolized, keeping the active breakdown products out of the brain, and that, I think, explains its success," said Dr. Janda, who is TSRI's Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry, and whose laboratory initially developed the vaccine three years ago. 

After Dr. Janda's initial success, researchers in Dr. Koob's laboratory put the vaccine through more rigorous tests. In one test, severely addicted rats taking heroin compulsively in escalating amounts were forced to abstain from the drug for 30 days before their access was renewed. In rats that had received a dummy vaccine, compulsive heroine intake resumed and re-escalated. But in the vaccinated rats, intake failed to escalate and none of the rats resumed compulsively taking the drug.

"Basically we were able to stop them from going through that cycle of taking more and more heroin," said TSRI Research Associate Joel Schlosburg. "And that was with the vaccine alone; ideally for human patients, the vaccine would be given with other treatments." 

Users frequently relapse after conventional treatment for heroin addiction, and the vaccine may prevent renewed addiction in people who begin taking the drug again after beginning recovery. The vaccine would also likely make it impossible for an addict to overdose on the drug since the drug is neutralized before it can do any damage. The vaccine could be ready for human trials later this year.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Scripps Research Institute Creates New Drug Discovery Initiative
Scripps Advance is a new drug discovery initiative to translate early-stage biomedical research projects into clinical development candidates.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Discovery of Biological Energy-Sensing Switch Could Have Broad Implications for Biology and Medicine
Biochemists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a genetic sequence that can alter its host gene’s activity in response to cellular energy levels.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Paper Finds Microdroplet PCR Enrichment Ideal Targeted Sequencing Solution for Large-Scale Population Studies
UCSD study evaluated microdroplet PCR’s advantages in performing sequence enrichment for targeted sequencing over traditional PCR approach.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Team Led by Scripps Research Scientists Finds new Way that Cells Fix Damage to DNA
Proteins responsible for this type of DNA repair may also limit the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents, which aim to injure tumor DNA.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Scientific News
Novel Technique for Kidney Research Developed
To better understand how the treatment leads to kidney damage, and possibly prevent it, a team of researchers at Yale School of Medicine developed a new 3D-imaging technique to peer deep into these vital organs.
Microscopic Fish are 3D-Printed to do More Than Swim
Researchers demonstrate a novel method to build microscopic robots with complex shapes and functionalities.
Promising Class of New Cancer Drugs Cause Memory Loss in Mice
New findings from The Rockefeller University suggest that the original version of BET inhibitors causes molecular changes in mouse neurons, and can lead to memory loss in mice that receive it.
A Better Way to Personalize Bladder Cancer Treatments
Researchers at UC Davis, in collaboration with colleagues at Jackson Laboratory, have developed a new way to personalize treatments for aggressive bladder cancer.
Breath of Fresh Air for Asthmatics
Researchers hope to develop a platform that will allow a range of drugs to be delivered by inhalation.
Capturing Cell Growth in 3-D
Spinout’s microfluidics device better models how cancer and other cells interact in the body.
Elastic Patch Releases Drugs in a Stretch
Researchers from have developed a drug delivery technology that consists of an elastic patch that can be applied to the skin and will release drugs whenever the patch is stretched.
New Extra ‘Sticky’ Microgel Could Revolutionise Bladder Cancer Treatment
Researchers have designed a new super-efficient way of delivering an anti-cancer drug which could extend and improve the quality of life for bladder cancer patients - and perhaps save lives.
Liposomes: A Basis for Drugs of the Future
An international group of scientists have recently presented a review of liposomes, microscopic capsules widely used all over the world in the development of new drugs.
Common Medications Could Delay Brain Injury Recovery
Drugs used to treat common complaints could delay the recovery of brain injury patients according to research by University of East Anglia (UEA) and University of Aberdeen scientists, published today in Brain Injury.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!