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Heroin Vaccine Ready for Testing on Humans

heroin addict

Researchers believe that the vaccine will help to eliminate the motivation for recovering addicts to continue using heroin.

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) of La Jolla, CA has completed pre-clinical testing of a vaccine to block the “high” effect stimulated by the opioid drug heroin and is now ready to test it in humans following tests that showed the vaccine’s effectiveness in nonhuman primates.1 

Research on the anti-heroin vaccine was conducted as part of a  study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.2

According to TSRI, the vaccine is designed to train the immune system to do something it is not designed to do naturally—recognize a substance (the heroin molecule) that is not a pathogen.3 Since heroin is not a pathogen, the vaccine exposes the immune system to a part of the heroin molecule’s structure forcing the immune system to respond by producing antibodies.3

These antibodies then neutralize the heroin molecules keeping them from reaching the brain, thus preventing the euphoric-like feeling caused by heroin.3 Researchers believe that the vaccine will help to eliminate the motivation for recovering addicts to continue using heroin.2

The vaccine was previously tested on laboratory rodents where it proved effective in neutralizing heroin.2 More recently, researchers conducted vaccine trials on four rhesus monkeys and found the vaccine to produce an effective immune response that could neutralize varying doses of heroin.2

The study’s lead investigator Kim Janda, PhD, professor of chemistry and a member of the Skagg’s Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI stated:

We’ve optimized every component of the vaccine. We were able to recapitulate most of what we’ve done in rodents. If it works in nonhuman primates, we shouldn’t see any hiccups in going into humans.3

Dr. Janda added:

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.2

TSRI’s vaccine is designed to work only against the effects of heroin and not other opioids.3


1 Coxworth B. Heroin Vaccine Comes a Step Closer to Human Use. New Atlas June 6, 2017.
2 The Scripps Research Institute. TSRI Anti-Heroin Vaccine Found Effective in Non-Human Primates. The Scripps Research Institute June 6, 2017.
3 Fikes B. Heroin vaccine works in monkeys, being readied for human testing. The San Diego Union-Tribune June 10, 2017.

6 Responses to Heroin Vaccine Ready for Testing on Humans

  1. Deni Gereighty, BSN, RN Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 2:02 am

    Having used morphine, fentanyl, dilaudid, demerol and methadone for pain from my cancer surgery, and multiple surgeries for overwhelming infection of the surgical site, it is inconceivable that anyone would accept such a vaccine, but I’m only a BSn, RN with personal and professional experience. Withdrawal from any of these is not pleasant. What happened to methadone?. While it is an excellent pain reliever, everyone I met thought it was for heroin use. It is safer, as is naltrexone; however, even nurses and doctors do not know when to use what and when NOT to use narcan or do not read the chart in an emergency! I would advise anyone not to even test this in a clinical trial. It frightens me as the possible effects will be a disaster. The answer is not a vaccine. The answer is helping people kick their addiction, getting a job and place to live and lots of therapy to find a life they can enjoy without drugs to get high or feel normal. Just like an alcoholic or veteran with PTSD, multiple fixes need to be put in place. Clean needle exchanges, insurance coverage of treatment centers, adequate close mental health therapy are all better for people than billions spent on heroin vaccines. Who decides who gets this vaccine? All poor, black and brown skinned people like the US police target? We already have so many vaccine disasters, we do not need more. The “opioid crisis” needs social fixes, not a vaccine! Money should be spent on halfway houses, family therapy, job fairs and all the assistance to change the reasons that led to drug abuse in the first place. Also, lumping heroin, cocaine, and narcotics all into one abuse/misuse/overdose category is grossly unfair and unproductive as officials focus on keeping it away from people who, like me, need narcotic pain meds. Since every drug is open to abuse and black market, giving people what they really need would work better. But most officials already know that and are unwilling to do so, but addressing the ‘epidemic’ gets votes, even if it is a disaster making more people miserable and losing so many lives. I never got high after I recovered from anesthesia and ICU and the site actually healed and I weaned off faster than the doctors told me to do. Why would I want to be sleepy if I’m not in pain? When the drugs dont work, I had to multi-task or moan in pain and wait to another pain pill was due in the hospital or at home. Taking pain meds for physical pain is different from taking them to get high or fear of pain if you stop them, mental or physical. addressing that if one is abusing drugs is what fixes the situation. But the will to provide those services is what officials do not want to do, so a heroin vaccine which does not work in 2-30 years will launch another war o0n drugs until we learn to stop being stupid!

  2. Janine Jacobus Reply

    July 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    This seems strange indeed, it has stated that its causing the body to perform a task that is deemed unnatural.. what in the actual fuck are you guys on about? Medicine is supposed to enhance the bodies already functioning procedures. The answer to addiction is not sobriety, or blockage, it is community and living a life of self fulfillment and serving others. Not to mention, and granted this is just my personal angle, the medical industry seems to be, as of late, obsessed with vaccines, and is slowly conceiving this notion of a “single cure all, prevent all” way of medicine and living. One size doesn’t fit all, you fucking pricks. Thank you.

  3. Robin Sandberg Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Heroin addicts already no longer get the HIGH they once did. The body has made adaptations and now they just use to feel normal. Unfortunately they keep using in the hope that they will experience the magic they once did. I dont see how this drug will prevent that desperate search for wholeness…that is never found through the use of drugs. The drugs only show you the glimpse…not the way.

  4. CAWS Reply

    July 16, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    As with Narcan; addicts will just take more or find another high. Also what happens if they need surgery later? Fentanyl & morphine will also be blocked.

  5. Robert Reply

    July 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Naltrexone = this vaccine minus the potential side effects

  6. Kathy Beavin Reply

    July 16, 2017 at 10:37 am

    This seems – well for lack of a better word – weird. I would think this would have no effect on the addiction itself. Once you become adicted are you adicted to the drug itself or the high?

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