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Vaccine Against Heroin High Developed at La Jolla's Scripps Research Institute

Using rats, researchers say they have created a vaccine that stops heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla report they have developed a vaccine that stops heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.

The hope for a new “anti-heroin” vaccine is that it will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin.

Kim D. Janda, the study’s principal investigator and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, said in a statement that in his 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, he has not seen such a strong immune response as he has with this new vaccine.

“We saw a very robust and specific response from this heroin vaccine,” said George F. Koob, chairman of the Scripps Research Committee on Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders and co-author of the study.

“I think a humanized version could be of real help to those who need and want it,” said Koob.

The vaccine was tested on animals.

The new study, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, demonstrates how the vaccine produces antibodies that stop heroin and other psychoactive compounds metabolized from heroin from reaching the brain and ultimately producing a euphoric effect. Study results also found that generated antibodies in response to the heroin vaccine.

In addition, the study found that addicted rats were less like to “self administer” heroin by pressing a lever after several booster shots of the vaccination. Only three out of seven rats that received the vaccine self-administered heroin. In contract, all of the control rats or rats not given the vaccine self-administered the drug.

For more information on the study visit pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jm200461.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse of the National Institute of Health and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.

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