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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Anti-Heroin Vaccine Developed











Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have created a vaccine that stops the high one get from from heroin. Designed as a therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction, the vaccine produces antibodies that stop heroin as well as other psychoactive compounds metabolised from heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.
Previous efforts to create a clinically viable heroin vaccine have struggled because heroin is metabolized into multiple substances that each produce psychoactive effects. To overcome this problem the researchers, led by the study’s principal investigator, Kim D. Janda, targeted not just the heroin itself, but also the chemical it quickly degrades into, 6-acetylmorphine (6AM), and morphine.
They linked a heroin-like hapten (a small molecule that elicits an immune response only when attached to a large carrier) to a generic carrier protein called keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), and mixed it with Alum, a vaccine additive, to create a vaccine “cocktail.” This mixture slowly degraded in the body, exposing the immune system to different psychoactive metabolites of heroin such as 6AM and morphine. “Critically, the vaccine produces antibodies to a constantly changing drug target,” said G. Neil Stowe, who is first author of the new study. “Such an approach has never before been engaged with drug-of-abuse vaccines.”

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