Last Updated: Feb 10, 2023

A team of scientists has developed a fentanyl vaccine that might prove to be highly effective in addiction treatment. The research work has been led by the University of Houston. Experts who have been involved in making the new fentanyl vaccine have said that it can restrain the entry of the synthetic opioid into the brain, which can basically cure fentanyl addiction by removing the euphoric high. An associate professor of psychology at UH and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES), Dr. Colin Haile has said that the new vaccine might be a game changer in the fight against fentanyl addiction in the country. He has said that it is a unique approach for treating a person who is dealing with opioid use disorder and this vaccine acts in a different manner from other therapies that are available for opioid use issues and overdose deaths. Experts have said that the fentanyl shot that has been developed by the team can help people who are undergoing addiction recovery. Fundamentally, the fentanyl shot triggers antibodies in the body like other vaccines produce antibodies to eliminate a virus or bacteria. And this new fentanyl vaccine works in the same way by refraining from the entry of fentanyl into the patient’s brain. These antibodies help keep the fentanyl in the user’s bloodstream and later it is removed via the kidneys. Dr. Haile has said that the fentanyl vaccine is the same as the hepatitis B shot. The vaccine triggers the body to produce antibodies against fentanyl and if a person takes fentanyl, those antibodies will attach to the drug and block it from entering the brain.

Experts have said that fentanyl enters the brain quickly, and activates euphoric centers without the vaccine. They have said that fentanyl also can trigger regions of the brain that manage respiration and it can result in overdose and death as well. Health experts who have been involved in the study have said that an animal trial on mice and rats has shown great outcomes and they believe that the same outcomes will appear in human trials as well that are scheduled to begin within a few weeks. Scientists have stated that they have done extensive studies in mice and rats and they have seen that the fentanyl vaccine blocks fentanyl from reaching the brain. Dr. Haile expects that the new vaccine for fentanyl addiction might be available to people in another two years. Health experts have said that the vaccine has been developed with components that have been used by people and are available in the market, therefore, they hope that the approval process will be much easier and faster when they will file their application for the FDA’s approval. The team of experts started developing this vaccine around six years ago when an extraordinary surge was seen in overdose death across the United States. As per the latest report, Experts have developed a fentanyl vaccine using two protein strands that have already been used in other vaccine therapies. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that more than 150 people lose their lives every day due to overdoses of synthetic opioids and the vaccine has arrived at the right time when the drug overdose catastrophe has rocked the country.

A CDC report has shown that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the main cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Experts have predicted that more than 110000 overdose deaths took place from August 2021 to August 2022 which is a striking record for a single 12-month time frame. The manufacturing of fentanyl started increasing around 10 years ago. It became a vital part of the mainstream market of illicit drugs. The usage of heroin has dropped across many areas of the United States as fentanyl is inexpensive and it is easy to manufacture and smuggle. It generates the same effect in the brain. Therefore, it has completely taken over the illicit opioid market. The Department of Defense has funded the development of the vaccine to address the dominance of addiction among the families of many service fellows. Dr. Haile has said that people, who have taken detox therapy will be most benefitted by the vaccine as it will avert relapses as well. While people who want to quit drugs can also be benefited from this fentanyl vaccine. On the other hand, people who are immunized with the fentanyl vaccine can consume other drugs and opioids that are not targeted by antibodies produced by the vaccine if they do not want to quit their addiction to opioids. Many people have been getting in touch with the team of experts at the University of Houston to show their willingness to be included in the upcoming human trials.