Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug.
Their research, published today in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, shows how a new anti-heroin formulation that is safe in animal models remains stable at room temperature for at least 30 days. As a result, the vaccine is close to being ready for human testing.
“The heroin vaccine is one step closer to clinical evaluation,” says Candy S. Hwang, PhD, first author of the study and a research associate at TSRI.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 15,446 Americans died from heroin overdose between 2000 and 2016, and the mortality rates are increasing. Heroin abuse has been further fueled by a rise in prescription opioid abuse—studies show that opioid pain reliever users are 40 times more likely to abuse heroin.
The first formulation of the heroin vaccine was developed in 2013 by a team led by Kim D. Janda, PhD, the Ely R. Callaway Jr. Professor of Chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI. It has been shown to be effective—and safe—in both mouse and non-human primate models.
The vaccine works by training the immune system antibodies to recognize and bind to heroin molecules, blocking the drug from reaching the brain to cause a “high.” Researchers believe that blocking the high of heroin will help eliminate the motivation for many recovering addicts to relapse into drug use.
The heroin molecule does not naturally prompt an antibody response, so researchers attach it to a carrier protein that alerts the immune system to start making antibodies. Scientists also add an ingredient called an adjuvant to the vaccine, which boosts the immune response and makes the vaccine more effective.
Hwang says, “Our goal was to prepare a vaccine that could be advanced to clinical trials. As such, we were looking for the best combination of ‘hapten’ (the heroin molecule), carrier protein and adjuvant to keep the vaccine both stable for transport and storage but still efficacious.”
For the new study, the researchers investigated how 20 different carrier protein/adjuvant combinations worked, including shelf stability based on temperature and storage time and whether the formulation was a liquid or powder.
Their experiments in rodent models showed that the best vaccine formulation contained a carrier protein called tetanus toxoid (TT) and adjuvants called alum and CpG ODN. The discovery that alum worked best as an adjuvant was especially significant since alum is one of the few adjuvants used in vaccines already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The researchers also found that there was no difference in how well it worked between the liquid and powder versions of this formulation.
Hwang notes that the best vaccine formulation showed protection against lethal doses of heroin. This is particularly important as many heroin addicts have succumb to overdose and death during their attempts to quit the drug.
With this new study, the researchers have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective in animal models, stable under clinical conditions and reliant on an already-approved adjuvant. The next step is to find a producer to make the vaccine on a large scale.
“We believe that a heroin vaccine would be tremendously beneficial for people who have a heroin substance use disorder but have found difficulty in trying to quit,” says Hwang.
Learn more: Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose
The Latest on: Heroin vaccine
New vaccine could prevent Lyme Disease
on July 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm
The first human trial for a vaccine to protect against Lyme Disease just wrapped up in France. The drug manufacturer, Valneva, said the vaccine is 96 percent effective and available in the U.S. Someth... […]
Modeling of patient virus titers suggests that availability of a vaccine could reduce hepatitis C virus transmission among injecting drug users
on July 11, 2018 at 11:27 am
1 Division of Viral Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD 20993, USA. 2 Program for Experimental and Theoretical Modeling, Division of ... […]
Hepatitis C Vaccine Could Dramatically Reduce Transmission in People Who Inject Drugs
on July 11, 2018 at 11:07 am
Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Among the most serious consequences of the opioid epidemic is the spread of hepatitis C among injecting drug users. A major new study shows that if a hepatitis C vaccine were ... […]
Trump Blasts Pfizer Drug Price Hikes: 'We Will Respond!'
on July 9, 2018 at 2:10 pm
Those include Viagra, cholesterol drug Lipitor and arthritis treatment Xeljanz ... Our portfolio includes more than 400 medicines and vaccines. We are modifying prices for approximately 10 percent of ... […]
Inovio’s MERS vaccine yields positive results in Phase 1 study
on July 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm
Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced positive Phase 1 results of its collaborative vaccine study with INO-4700 (GLS-5300 ... which is being co-developed by Inovio and GeneOne Life Science showed that the ... […]
Trump Attacks Pfizer Over Drug Cost in Latest Dig at Pharma
on July 9, 2018 at 11:48 am
“Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” Trump said in ... Pfizer said in a statement that the list prices for the majority of its drugs and vaccines hasn’t ... […]
Trump slams Pfizer after July 1 drug price hikes
on July 9, 2018 at 11:32 am
"Change is coming to drug pricing, whether painful or not for pharmaceutical ... Our portfolio includes more than 400 medicines and vaccines. We are modifying prices for approximately 10 percent of th... […]
Hemispherx Files Positive Safety Report on Intranasal Use of Ampligen in Combination with FluMist Influenza Vaccine
on July 9, 2018 at 9:51 am
a Phase I/II trial of intranasal Ampligen® in combination with FluMist® influenza vaccine with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hemispherx is a research and development and, consistent with its ... […]
Step towards an HIV/AIDS vaccine
on July 9, 2018 at 4:18 am
There has been a four decades long challenge to develop a vaccine against the deadly HIV virus that causes AIDS. Last Saturday the research bore fruit when a team of scientists announced that a trial ... […]
Soligenix Receives European and Canadian Patents for its Ricin Toxin Vaccine (RiVax®) Formulation
on July 9, 2018 at 3:19 am
Recent developments in the RiVax ® program have also described immune correlates of protection for the ricin toxin vaccine, which are important to facilitating potential approval of thermostabilized R... […]
via Google News and Bing News