Drug Addiction Vaccine: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

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FLORIDA - BACKGROUND: In 2010 there were an estimated 22.6 million Americans over the age of 12 that were current or former illicit drug users within the last month. Another shocking fact, over six million children in America live with at least one parent who has a drug addiction. Addiction is a progressive problem in the United States. Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 percent. (Source: http://www.michaelshouse.com)

WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE DRUGS:

 

To feel good                Most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial sensation of euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the "high" is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy.

 

To feel better                Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and depression begin abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress.

 

To do better                 The increasing pressure that some individuals feel to chemically enhance or improve their athletic performance can similarly play a role in initial experimentation and continued drug abuse.

 

Curiosity                      Adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of the strong influence of peer pressure. (Source: http://www.drugabuse.gov)

 

TREATMENT: Currently, the best treatment out there for drug addiction is rehab. There are a number of different rehabilitation centers for all different types of drug addictions. For nicotine addiction, a patch could help.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Chemist Kim Janda, at Scripps Research Institute has developed  a vaccine against a heroin high and has proven its therapeutic potential in animal models. The new study demonstrates how a novel vaccine produces antibodies (a kind of immune molecule) that stop not only heroin but also other psychoactive compounds metabolized from heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.

Using an approach termed "immunopharmacotherapy," Janda and his Scripps Research colleagues previously created vaccines that used immune molecules to blunt the effects of other abused drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and nicotine. Human clinical trials are under way for the cocaine and nicotine vaccines. The researchers linked a heroin-like hapten (a small molecule that elicits an immune response) to a generic carrier protein called keyhole limpet hemocyanin or KLH, and mixed it with Alum, an adjuvant (vaccine additive), to create a vaccine "cocktail." This mixture slowly degraded in the body, exposing the immune system to different psychoactive metabolites of heroin. (Source: http://www.scripps.edu) Bottom of Form