Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California have created a new vaccine that could help heroin users kick their deadly addiction to the drug.
According to Discover magazine, scientists tested the new vaccine on rats and discovered that the treatment is able to neutralize heroin’s high effect before it reaches the brain.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers gave two groups of rats “unlimited access to heroin” for a month and then tried to detoxify the animals over several weeks. One group was given the vaccine, while the other group was not.
Results from blood samples from the vaccinated rats showed that the heroin had dissipated in their bloodstream and had a much weaker effect.
“We haven’t seen any rats relapse,” researcher George Kobb told U.S. News and World Report. “We’re guessing it would be unbelievably expensive for someone to try to overdose on heroin with this vaccine. It’d probably take a dealer’s whole stash.”
“The rats who were not vaccinated relapsed quickly, the vaccinated rats stopped taking it. In effect, what the vaccine does is prevent heroin from reaching the brain.”
“Basically we were able to stop them from going through that cycle of taking more and more heroin,” Joel Schlosburg, an author of the study, told Discover magazine. “And that was with the vaccine alone. Ideally for human patients the vaccine would be given with other treatments.”