Heroin addiction relapse is so common that it's often considered a part of the recovery process.
But what if there was a way to ensure that someone would never relapse again? Short of destroying all of the world's opiate supplies (which is highly unlikely), how can one ensure an individual would never get high from heroin again?
By vaccination, apparently. The Scripps Research Institute has successfully finished clinical trials on primates, testing vaccinations that could potentially block the "high" people feel from taking heroin.
The shot will continue to work for up to eight months from the time it is administered (as evidenced by trials) and researchers are hoping that they can move forward to human trials in the near future.
The vaccination works by training the immune system to create antibodies that combat heroin by blocking the effects of the drug before it reaches the user's brain, stopping the high in its tracks.
"This validates our previous rodent data and positions our vaccine in a favorable light for anticipated clinical evaluation. We believe this vaccine candidate will prove safe for human trials," study leader Kim Janda said in a statement.
The opioid crisis in America is at an all-time high, with cheap heroin finding its way into more and more communities. Creators of the shot hope that a vaccination against heroin could help curb the alarming increase of users. If the shot is also cleared for use after human trials, then it could become an integral part of most rehabilitation programs.
There were four monkeys tested in the study, and two of them had been administered the vaccine seven months prior. The two monkeys who already had the shot before showed a greater response to the vaccination the second time around, which suggests that heroin users can have a long-term solution to their addiction.
The study only looked at the vaccine's effects on heroin use, so other opioids like Percocet or Oxycontin won't be blocked by the shot. However, the idea behind the shot can be applied to other drugs, like fentanyl. (h/t iflscience)
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