Another Day, Another Vaccine: For Heroin And Opioid Addiction

By Dawn Luger

Is the next attempt to treat opioid addiction a vaccination? Well, some researchers certainly think so. Score another point for the pharmaceutical companies.

Researchers are coming up with a new vaccine that would render the effects of opioids null and void in the body. The vaccine is said to offer protection from the effects of both heroin and the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The new vaccine is currently under development by researchers in the United States and its creators say that one day, this vaccine could help curb addiction and even possibly prevent fatal overdoses. Researchers say this new vaccine will make the brain immune to mind-altering chemicals and it could be the key to ending the opioid crisis.

Drug overdoses, more specifically, opioid overdoses, in the United States are feared to have caused more than 60,000 deaths in 2016. How incredibly ironic that the very industry that fueled this crisis now has the solution to the problem…

But while such investigations date as far back as the 1970s, researchers say the recent rise of synthetic opioids means vaccines to counter drugs’ powers could be more important than ever.

“There is an urgent need to discover effective medications to treat substance use disorders,” says chemist Kim D. Janda from the Scripps Research Institute in California.

“Increasingly, drug users are turning to opioids and powerful synthetic versions of these drugs that can sometimes be as much as 100 times more potent than heroin. Moreover, many patients [are] receiving treatment relapse.” –Science Alert

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After Big Pharma creates an addict to opioids from overprescribing, and the addict is cut off from the drug legally by a doctor, the problem expands. The addict then needs to go to the black market for synthetic and stronger drugs, and that poses major health risks. The numerous problems with these synthetic substitutes and supplements are various. Not only are they cheaper to manufacture, but they can be produced far more quickly than conventional drugs like heroin and can be purchased on the black market without a prescription. These drugs can be incredibly powerful with reports of black market opiates that are up to 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.

But the black market is incredibly economically effective, as it completely ignores government regulations. “They start putting in things like fentanyl because it’s much more potent and inexpensive. We’ll see more problems going forward, simply because it takes a couple of months to grow poppies, but it only takes a couple of days to make the synthetic opioid,” says Janda.

One of the difficulties with developing vaccines, other than another money-making scheme by those who started the epidemic, is that it is difficult to counter these kinds of drugs. Opioids are made up of tiny molecules that the body’s immune system doesn’t recognize as “bad”, and so it doesn’t do anything to fight against them. Which means a vaccine would be all but worthless in the fight against the opioid crisis.

To encourage that defensive reaction, Janda’s team designed small molecules called haptens that resemble the opioid molecules, but with proteins attached called epitopes that act as a binding site for antibodies produced by the immune system.

Once an immune system is trained up with a series of vaccination shots, it will learn to recognize molecular structures that look like opioids thanks to exposure to these beckoning proxies – and will send out antibodies that cling to the drugs, preventing them from crossing the blood-brain barrier for up to eight months. –Science Alert

Did you catch that? You would need a serious of shots of this vaccine for it to work, and even then, it’ll only last for eight months at the most. But don’t worry, it’s probably not a ploy to make money off a crisis. Big Pharma would never do that…
The research team hopes to begin clinical trials investigating how their molecule works in humans. So far, research has only been conducted on mice and monkeys and hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet. “Vaccines are meant to be used by people who want to quit taking drugs,” Janda explained to Philip Ball at The Guardian. “If you don’t want to stop then nothing will help. The idea is that if they have a moment of weakness, they won’t relapse and can continue with their therapy.”

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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.

Dawn Luger is a staff writer and reporter for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up – follow Dawn’s work at our Facebook or Twitter.

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