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posted by takyon on Wednesday June 28 2017, @04:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the permanent-fix dept.

Dr. Lowe, from In The Pipeline, writes about the development of a vaccine for heroin:

At first thought, that might seem like a weird idea. Drugs of abuse, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine et al. are small molecules, and as such are too small to set off immune responses on their own. But a strategy could be to attach them to some larger protein that can raise antibodies – if those antibodies recognize the drug-labeled part of the protein conjugate, they may well retain activity against the drug molecule in its free state.

[...] It's been a long road. The first morphine immunoconjugate was described in 1970, and a morphine vaccine was tested in rabbits in 1975. But very little progress in the field occurred over the next twenty years or so, partly because methadone treatment for heroin addiction had become widely used. It's interesting to note, though, that vaccine development work against amphetamine seems to have followed a roughly similar path

[...] It would seem that we really are getting close to human clinical trials for some of these, which will be quite interesting. A drug-abuse vaccine is not going to be magic, though. Because of the specificity of the immune response, someone who's been vaccinated against heroin would almost certainly still respond to morphine, and most definitely would to compounds like fentanyl or oxycodone [...] But vaccines could, at the same time, provide the extra help needed for people to finally break free of a particular drug, and addicts who are really trying to quit need all the help that they can get.

I'd say that last part is the key. One of the big issues in drug addiction is (in the end) a philosophical argument about free will (which would explain why it never gets resolved!) Is drug addiction a disease, a choice, a behavior, a biochemical problem. . .the arguments go on forever, complicated by the way that different people attach different meanings to those terms.

http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2017/06/26/a-heroin-vaccine
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jacs.7b03334


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 28 2017, @07:34PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 28 2017, @07:34PM (#532591)

    Maybe instead invest in curing the social and mental problems that lead to addictions.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 28 2017, @07:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 28 2017, @07:45PM (#532598)

    Good idea, but it would probably be best to approach the problem from multiple angles.

  • (Score: 2) by t-3 on Wednesday June 28 2017, @08:17PM

    by t-3 (4907) on Wednesday June 28 2017, @08:17PM (#532608)

    Agreed, treating the vast majority of addiction cases as diseases rather than as a symptom of various societal ills is just as misguided as the approach the legal system takes. Address the social and economic forces that trap people in drug lifestyles, reform the legal system that brands offenders as unemployable, and you might be getting somewhere. Of course, the social/economic side is nearly impossible to address in a predominantly capitalist system so I see the problem continuing for quite a while.