Vaccine could provide immunity to heroin high

Okay you crazy kids, time to pack it up and go home. Researchers at Scripps have just invented what looks to be a vaccine against heroin, that when taken, will prevent the drug from having any effect on you, ever.

Heroin is a drug, and like most drugs, your body is capable of developing an immune response to deal with it. A vaccine helps with the process by showing your immune system exactly what to do, and this is especially important for chemicals like heroin that are ordinarily too small for your body to identify as a threat. Heroin is also tricky because it rapidly breaks down in your body, so the high that you feel is actually due to several different chemicals all working on your brain at once. Or, you know, so I'm told.

To deal with this, the research group came up with a "dynamic" vaccine that's actually a cocktail of several different vaccines. One injection helps your body to create antibodies to protect against heroin itself, the chemical that heroin degrades into (6-acetylmorphine or 6AM), and morphine. So far, this approach looks to be very effective: among a group of heroin-addicted rats, more than 50% of them showed absolutely no interest in heroin after receiving the vaccine.

Obviously, this is a big deal to anyone trying to get over a heroin addiction. It's not going to help with the immediate symptoms, but it does make the possibility of a relapse pretty much zero, since it removes the entire appeal of using heroin in the first place.

It's important to reiterate that this vaccine is highly targeted, meaning that you can safely use it without risking immunity to other painkillers that you may need later on. Scripps is currently working with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to see if it might be possible to bundle this heroin vaccine with an HIV vaccine (which as far as I know doesn't exist yet) in one single shot.

Scripps, via Physorg

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