Drug addiction vaccine?

FRESNO, Calif.

Alcohol, pain killers, meth, nicotine. It's easy to get hooked on them all, but hard to kick the habit.

"I didn't want to use, but I didn't know how not to use," Chasity Stacy, a recovering drug addict, told Action News.

But what if stopping was as simple as getting a vaccine? 25 years of research is now becoming reality for chemist Kim Janda at Scripps Research Institute.

"Just blocking the drug before it gets to the pleasure centers in the brain," Kim Janda, Ph.D., a chemist at Scripps Research Institute, said.

His vaccines literally prevent the user from enjoying the drugs high.

"So what happens is that when the user takes the drug of abuse, the immune system recognizes it as being foreign, and alerts antibodies to attack the drug," Dr. Janda said.

Not only do they work to stop the feel-good effect the drug has, but could also be used to stop the effects of an overdose after the drug has been taken.

"We give the animal a cocaine overdose, we wait and it's going through convulsions," Dr. Janda said. "We give the animal an injection of the antibody, and the animal lives."

Doctor Janda stresses the vaccines should only be given to people who want to stop abusing drugs. He is currently working on vaccines to block meth, heroin, cocaine and nicotine.

"These vaccines would be very useful for those weak moments," Dr. Janda said.

And help former addicts stay clean and sober. Doctor Janda believes his heroine vaccine will be in clinical trials next year. His team is also working on a vaccine to fight food addiction.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Cynthia Brauer
Scripps Research Institute
cbrauer@scripps.edu

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