THURSDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they're
seeing promising results in animals from a vaccine designed to
prevent a heroin high.
The vaccine produces antibodies -- a part of the immune system
-- that appear to prevent heroin from reaching the brain and
producing euphoria, the study authors explained.
"In my 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, I haven't seen such a strong immune response as I have with what we term a dynamic anti-heroin vaccine," principal investigator Kim D. Janda, a chair in chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute, said in an institute news release. "It is just extremely effective. The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin."
Janda and his colleagues have already produced vaccines that try
to stop the effects of cocaine and nicotine; they're being tested
in humans. The new heroin vaccine targets both heroin and a
chemical produced by its breakdown.
Addicted rats that were given the vaccine were also less likely
to self-administer more heroin, in contrast to the ones that did
not get the vaccine (the "control" rats). All of the control rats
continued pressing levers to get more heroin, the investigators
Since heroin abuse and addiction also help drive the spread of
HIV through needle sharing, the researchers are now exploring
whether it might be possible to combine an HIV vaccine (none is
currently available) and a heroin vaccine into the same
The findings were released online in advance of print
publication in the
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
While the findings hold promise, experts note that research
involving animals frequently fails to lead to benefits for
For more about drug abuse, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.