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Heroin Vaccine Could Help Fight Opioid Epidemic


Research conducted by the US Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) determined “that an experimental heroin vaccine” successfully “induced antibodies that prevented the drug from crossing the blood-brain barrier in mice and rats” (MHRP, 2017).

The vaccine was developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and does not interfere with other medications used to treat addiction like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone (Blakinger, 2017). Aside from heroin, it also works against drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and codeine, but not on the more potent and often-abused fentanyl (Blakinger, 2017). An additional benefit is that the vaccine doesn’t interact negatively with naloxone, the overdose reversal drug.

“By eliciting antibodies that bind with heroin in the blood, the vaccine aims to block the euphoria and addictive effects,” stated Dr. Gary Matyas with MHRP (Blakinger, 2017). “We hope to give people a window so they can overcome their addicion,” he concluded.