Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University are testing a vaccine created by Scripps Research Institute that aims to stop opioid users from getting high from drugs like heroin. The vaccine has been reported in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences.
This vaccine and others like it stimulate the immune system to generate antibodies that can stop molecules like heroin or fentanyl from reaching the central nervous system. They are different from drugs that aim to reduce the effects of opioids by targeting the opioid receptor, like naloxone.
“If a person injects heroin or fentanyl after they have been vaccinated, those antibodies are there to capture the drugs in the bloodstream, which should prevent people from getting high,” said Matthew Banks, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the VCU School of Medicine.