Virginia Developing Anti-Fentanyl Vaccine

(June 27, 2019)

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have a vaccine which combats fentanyl, reports WVTF. Led by Assistant Professor Matthew Banks, PhD., VCU researchers have developed a vaccine that could curb a patient’s interest in addictive opioids. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid fifty times stronger than heroin, is one of the most dangerous opioids available today. The medication’s development first involved trials with fentanyl-addicted rats. They were given the vaccine and then allowed to choose between food and fentanyl. Trials showed that the vaccinated rats chose their food over their fentanyl.

Banks and the other researchers hope that the vaccine can have similar effects when given to human patients. “You are now given … opportunities to compete with the drug of abuse,” says Banks. A California company has begun clinical trials to evaluate the vaccine. If the vaccine becomes available, a vaccinated patient wouldn’t want to use fentanyl. This change would best help sober patients . It’s more important for sober patients to avoid relapse, because their body no longer tolerates the amount of drugs it once used. That new intolerance makes fatal overdose a greater risk. But if the anti-fentanyl vaccine earns approval, patients could lose the urge to relapse with the harmful drug.

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