A Vaccine for Heroin? Can’t Wait to Hear What the Anti-Vaccine People Have to Say About This

A Vaccine for Heroin? Can’t Wait to Hear What the Anti-Vaccine People Have to Say About This

An article in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society describes the successful use in monkeys of an actual vaccine for heroin! The researchers (from Scripps in California) were able to isolate the hapten (heroin) and raise a molecule that bound to and inactivated 6-monoacetyl morphine (6-MAM) one of the primary metabolites of heroin. The vaccinated individual doesn’t get any of the euphoric effects of the opioid. 

Who needs this you might ask? We already have naloxone, which immediately reverses the effects of opioids. This paper is fascinating because it describes an immunologic response that lasts for as long as half a year or longer! Some of the monkeys received the vaccine and then were immune to the effects of heroin for 7 months. 

Why should you care about this? Well, I’d keep an eye on pharmaceutical development of this – might be an investment winner. It also could save countless numbers of lives. An addicted person gets a vaccination, develops antibodies and is immune to heroin for a half-year (actually the effects of the heroin are substantially reduced by 15 fold). That’s a pretty powerful tool in the opioid epidemic that is ravaging large parts of the country. 

Right now this vaccine is only effective against heroin and hasn’t been used in humans, but it has some amazing potential and is an exciting follow-up to a study from last year also from Scripps that described the successful use of a vaccine against fentanyl

I’ll try to post the whole heroin vaccine article as a pdf. Don’t hold your breath – this usually doesn’t work. 

JACS Heroin Vaccine

Hey – I think it worked! 

Written by Poison Boy

Gerry O'Malley (a.k.a Poison Boy) is a board certified ER doctor and toxicologist with a interest in the unusual, terrifying and occasionally hilarious world of poisonings and toxicology. This site is an exploration of poisons of historical interest as well as in current events and pop culture.

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