Scientists have been trying to create drug vaccines for at least 30 years.
The respected journal Pharmaceutics published a study on the first vaccine that blocks the entry of the drug fentanyl into the brain of rats, that is, it blocks the development of addiction.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine. When it began to be used in the US in the 1990s, prescribed for patients with severe pain, it caused a veritable epidemic of fentanyl. People at first sat down on the analgesic effect, and then they could no longer live without these drugs.
Scientists at the University of Houston have developed a successful tactic to create a vaccine against this dependence: it is based on the drug itself, an immunogenic protein and an adjuvant protein. Experiments were carried out on rats: six weeks after the introduction of the vaccine, there was a noticeable effect – the amount of drug in the brain decreased 10 times, and its effect was blocked. Furthermore, the rats did not experience any “cancellation” side effects.
The blocking effect lasted for 10 weeks, scientists are conducting further research. But they quickly warn that their vaccine works exclusively against fentanyl, and not against other opioids.
RATS HAVE BEEN TREATED FOR HEROIN ADDICTION
This is not the first attempt to invent a vaccine or miracle drug to combat drug addiction. Scientists have been trying to create drug vaccines for at least 30 years. The principle of action of vaccines is obvious: after administration, antibodies must appear that will intercept the drug in the blood, preventing it from entering the brain. Therefore, taking the drug will not cause a feeling of euphoria, it will be meaningless.
So, in 2017, a report on the heroin vaccine was published. The experimental vaccine was developed by researchers with the US Military HIV Program and scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine induced antibodies that prevented the drug from crossing the brain’s blood-brain barrier in mice and rats.
Studies have shown that the vaccine also produces antibodies against other commonly used opioids, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and codeine. It also reduces the effects of high-dose heroin, which may indicate the possibility of preventing an overdose.
It all started out great, but apparently it didn’t go beyond rat research, at least we didn’t hear anything more about this development.
Scientists are also trying to create a vaccine or superdrugs to combat cocaine addiction, but so far they all remain within the walls of laboratories.
ADDICTION IS NOT JUST PHYSICAL
– In modern practice, blockers, opioid receptor antagonists (for example, naloxone, naltrexone) are used to alleviate drug addiction, – says psychiatrist-narcologist, psychotherapist Alexei Magalif. – Reduce the effects of opioids, prevent drug intoxication, reduce cravings for them. It is difficult for me to speak about the effectiveness of the vaccines that are being developed, but even if such drugs enter the wide market, it should be noted that they have a specific effect, they are developed from a specific type of narcotic substance. . Consequently, after quitting one drug, the addict may switch to another, or to alcohol, which often happens. Therefore, it is too early to expect a universal remedy for all ills. The root of any addiction is in psychological problems, more precisely, in the mental sphere. And first of all, you will need the help of an experienced psychiatrist-psychotherapist.