In what is described as a potentially significant advance in the treatment of opioid addiction and overdose, researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) report the development of a vaccine that blocks the opioid’s analgesic effect and decreases the risk of fatality from overdose. The vaccine was successfully tested in animal models and appears to work both on oxycodone and hydrocodone. Kim Janda, PhD, Professor of Chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI, commented, “We saw both blunting of the drug’s effects and, remarkably, prevention of drug lethality. The protection against overdose death was unforeseen but clearly of enormous potential clinical benefit.” The findings were published online last week in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.
The new vaccine is not the first to be developed, but is the first to employ an accurate representation of the oxy/hydro opioid structure, according to the researchers. It combines this structure with an immune response-provoking molecule in an injectable form that causes the body’s immune system to bind to the opioid and remove it from circulation. The team reports that the vaccine potency continued for the entire 60-day study period, and believe that it has the potential for longer effectiveness. In comparison to current therapies for opioid addiction, the TSRI vaccine does not alter the chemistry of the brain, and could extend the time window for successful clinical response to overdose.
Read a news story about the discovery here.
The journal abstract may be read here.
Posted on November 28, 2016