Researchers Developing Vaccine to Fight Opioid Use Disorder

High Times

Scientists with a new research center at the University of Washington are working on a vaccine to help fight the opioid epidemic in a bid to stem the tide of overdose deaths that has swept the nation over the past two decades.  Marco Pravetoni, the head of the new UW Medicine Center for Medication Development for Substance Use Disorders, is leading the effort to develop the vaccine. Similar to immunization against an invading pathogen, the vaccine under development would stimulate the body’s immune system to attack and destroy opioid molecules before they can enter the brain.  Such a vaccine would not prevent drug cravings commonly experienced by those with opioid abuse disorder. But the treatment, if successful, would block the effects of opioids including euphoria, pain relief and even overdose, thus likely reducing abuse. The new research center opened this month and has raised more than $2 million in initial funding. Pravetoni hopes to raise enough money to complete further research on the vaccine under development. “What I’m hoping to achieve is pretty much every year, we’re going to start a new clinical trial,” Pravetoni told the Seattle Times in early January. An Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses In November, provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that during the 12-month period ending April 2021, 100,306 Americans died of drug overdoses. Synthetic opioids were involved in nearly two-thirds of the overdose deaths reported. The overdose-reversal drug naloxone has been shown to save lives in emergencies. Additionally, treatments for opioid abuse disorder including methadone and buprenorphine can help those struggling with addiction, although opioid replacement therapy drugs have their own risk of addiction. New treatments could increase the chances of success for those struggling with opioid abuse, according to Rebecca Baker, director of the National Institutes of…

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Source : Researchers Developing Vaccine to Fight Opioid Use Disorder

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