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Vaccine in Development for Synthetic Opioid Effects

Vaccine in Development for Synthetic Opioid Effects

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) are working on a vaccine that can block the effects of synthetic opioids, according to a study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition last month (Wilkerson, 2016). 


The vaccine was tested on fentanyl, a designer drug that “mimics the effects of opioids” and is used in prescription medications like oxycodone and Percocet (Wilkerson, 2016). The new vaccine was tested on fentanyl and successfully stopped it from reaching the brain—something that should work on all derivatives of the drug. 


Molecules inside the new vaccine are “similar in structure to fentanyl, which trains the immune system to recognize fentanyl as an ‘invader’” (Wilkerson, 2016). The body responds to the invader by releasing antibodies that bind to the drug and make it unable to reach the brain. Therefore, anyone receiving the vaccine will not be able to feel the effects of the drug, which may curb use. 


The authors of the study hope to expand the vaccine’s effects to heroin as well, since it is often mixed with fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives. 






Wilkerson, M. (2016). Researchers are developing a vaccine for some major designer drugs. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/researchers-are-developing-vaccine-some-major-designer-drugs