Scientists are working on developing vaccines to combat the addictive properties of methamphetamines, nicotine, heroin and cocaine. The vaccine triggers the production of antibodies that block the drug's ability to get the user high.
A trial at The Scripps Research Institute in California cured rodents of heroin addiction.
From U.S. News & World Report:
The vaccine, which could be ready for human trials later this year, would likely make it impossible for an addict to overdose on the drug, because heroin and its byproducts are neutralized by the immune system before they can do any damage, says George Kobb, one of the vaccine's developers.
"We haven't seen any rats relapse," Kobb says. "We're guessing it would be unbelievably expensive for someone to try to overdose on heroin with this vaccine. It'd probably take a dealer's whole stash."
However, researchers at work developing such vaccines warn that they are no magic bullet.
"Interestingly, while an anti-cocaine or anti-heroin vaccine eliminates the drug's effects (both pleasant and unpleasant), that doesn't by itself curb a user's desire," wrote Lauren Biron for The Week. "The person still has to want to get clean, in other words, and Janda cautions the vaccines' potential is not as a cure-all, but rather as a powerful aid to help remove the temptation (why do the drug if it doesn't work?) and as a net to catch someone during their weak moments. Another limitation with vaccines is the booster shots required to keep the antibody memory alive."
On The Daily Circuit, we look at the potential of the vaccines and the new ways doctors are approaching drug addiction.