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This Heroin Vaccine Might Be the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic

This Heroin Vaccine Might Be the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic

Health

This Heroin Vaccine Might Be the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic

At this point, we all know at least one friend or loved one who struggles with opioid addiction. New research finally points to a cure.

We all know how beneficial weed can be on so many levels. Unfortunately, it’s still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. That’s the same category that heroin is in! Heroin addiction, however, is very serious and can be absolutely fatal. Luckily, researchers are getting closer to a groundbreaking new heroin vaccine that might stop the high of heroin. And why do they think it’ll work on humans? Well, it’s certainly helping non-human primates…

A Heroin Vaccine: What Researchers Have Discovered

This Heroin Vaccine Might Be the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic

Research on the new vaccine took place for eight years at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). There, rhesus monkeys have been test subjects for the new anti-heroin vaccine.

These primates are great candidates because their DNA is so similar to ours. Scientists can make educated guesses based on how drugs that work on them might work on us humans. This is also the first vaccine of its kind to reach this stage of preclinical testing.

So, how does it work? The heroin vaccine teaches the immune system to produce antibodies that neutralize heroin molecules before they enter the brain. These antibodies also block the euphoric “high” that users crave so much.

It’s the same high that makes the opioid drug so addictive and dangerous. Unlike a cannabis “high,” which is not harmful to us, a heroin high is extremely intense.

Users may experience vomiting, trouble breathing, choking, and chills. Overdose is also a danger. Heroin addiction can lead to severe health problems and even death.

However, if the heroin high is blocked before it reaches the brain, the drug has no psychoactive payoff. This will get rid of any incentive for recovering addicts to use again.

The vaccine is extremely important, as our country is currently facing a very serious public health issue.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

This Heroin Vaccine Might Be the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic

One of the new study’s authors is Paul Bremer of TSRI. Paul believes that he and his team have discovered a “universal drug vaccine platform that can be customized to target virtually any drug or a predetermined combination of drugs.”

Their new heroin vaccine is not only durable but effective over a period of at least eight months. They also believe it can help addicts deal with heroin cravings.

Heroin is a type of opioid. Other opioids include pain relievers like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and opioid addiction plays a big role.

The number of people using heroin has been steadily rising since 2007. For those who inject it, there’s also the risk of infections like HIV, hepatitis B and C, and diseases that come from sharing needles.

Hopefully, if more research is done, the new heroin vaccine could save millions of lives. The researchers think that the vaccine is safe for human trials, not just for testing on rhesus monkeys.

“We really encouraged to see the vaccine produce such lasting effects in non-human primate models,” they said in a press release.

The next step is to license the vaccine to an outside company for more clinical trials. They hope it will help not just with heroin users, but with those addicted to other opioids like fentanyl.

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Julia Rubin

Julia Rubin is a Brooklyn-based author with an MFA in writing for children & young adults from The New School. Her fiction as appeared in publications like the North American Review, The Lascaux Review, and Sierra Nevada Review, and she has written for a variety of online media companies like AllDay and Wetpaint Entertainment

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