US Develops Vaccine To Help Overcome Fentanyl Addiction

US Develops Vaccine - Fentanyl Addiction

University of Houston, Texas, United States researchers claim that they have successfully developed a fentanyl vaccine. Being able to block synthetic opioids from entering the brain, this vaccine is being proposed as a breakthrough in the treatment of addiction to this class of opioid painkillers.

"There's no doubt about it. We developed a new game changer," said Dr. Colin Haile, research professor of psychology at the University of Houston and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics, quoted from Fox News, Thursday (9/2/2023).

The fentanyl vaccine, according to Haile, is a very different strategy for treating individuals with opioid use disorders. Vaccines also work in a very different way from other treatments for opioid use disorder.

This vaccine basically produces antibodies like other vaccines make antibodies against viruses or bacteria. This new vaccine does the same thing, namely by blocking fentanyl from entering the user's brain, storing it in the blood, and then removing it from the body.

In order for fentanyl to remain in the blood, researchers use a protein as a binder before it is excreted through the kidneys. The vaccine cures addiction by eliminating the euphoric high.

"This is similar to the hepatitis B vaccine, where the vaccine stimulates the body to make antibodies against fentanyl," said Haile.

Without a vaccine, fentanyl easily penetrates the brain, stimulates the euphoria center and also stimulates the part of the brain that controls breathing to cause overdose and even death. Tests on rats and laboratory rats showed very promising results. Haile believes researchers will see similar findings when human trials begin in the coming weeks.

"We have done extensive studies in mice and the effect of the vaccine is quite dramatic," he said.

Researchers believe this vaccine could be available to the public within two years. Given that the vaccine already consists of components that are already on the market and have been tested on humans, researchers hope the approval process will be expedited by the FDA.

Haile and his team began work on a vaccine about six years ago when an unprecedented increase in overdose deaths started to emerge. The vaccine was developed from two proteins that are already used in other vaccine treatments.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have become the leading cause of death from overdose in the US. It is estimated that more than 110,000 deaths occurred between August 2021 and August 2022, an astounding record for a single 12-month period.

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