Fentanyl Vaccine Breakthrough – Potential “Game Changer” for Opioid Epidemic

Brain Protection Concept

Researchers report the breakthrough discovery of a new vaccine that targets the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl. It can block fentanyl’s ability to enter the brain, thus eliminating the drug’s “high.”

Study suggests new vaccine could prevent deadly opioid from entering the brain.

A new vaccine has been developed that targets the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl that could block its ability to enter the brain, thus eliminating the drug’s “high.” The breakthrough discovery could have major implications for the nation’s opioid epidemic by becoming a relapse prevention agent for people trying to quit using opioids. While research reveals Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is treatable, an estimated 80% of those dependent on the drug suffer a relapse. The vaccine was developed by a research team led by the University of Houston.

Published recently in the journal Pharmaceutics, the findings could not be timelier or more in demand: Over 150 people die every day from overdoses of synthetic opioids including fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Consumption of about 2 milligrams of fentanyl (the size of two grains of rice) is likely to be fatal depending on a person’s size.

Colin Haile

Colin Haile, University of Houston research associate professor of psychology and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES), and a founding member of the UH Drug Discovery Institute. Haile is reporting a breakthrough fentanyl vaccine that could be a “game changer” in opioid addiction. Credit: University of Houston

“We believe these findings could have a significant impact on a very serious problem plaguing society for years – opioid misuse. Our vaccine is able to generate anti-fentanyl antibodies that bind to the consumed fentanyl and prevent it from entering the brain, allowing it to be eliminated out of the body via the kidneys. Thus, the individual will not feel the euphoric effects and can ‘get back on the wagon’ to sobriety,” said the study’s lead author Colin Haile, a research associate professor of psychology at UH and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES), and a founding member of the UH Drug Discovery Institute.

In another positive finding, the vaccine did not cause any adverse side effects in the immunized rats involved in lab studies. The team plans to start manufacturing clinical-grade vaccine in the coming months with clinical trials in humans planned soon.

Fentanyl is an especially dangerous threat because it is often added to street drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and other opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone/acetaminophen pills, and even to counterfeit benzodiazepines like Xanax. These counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl add to the amount of fentanyl overdoses in individuals who do not ordinarily consume opioids.

Therese Kosten and Colin Haile

In the lab: Therese Kosten, professor of psychology and director of the Developmental, Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience program and Colin Haile, research associate professor of psychology and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES), and a founding member of the UH Drug Discovery Institute. Credit: University of Houston

“The anti-fentanyl antibodies were specific to fentanyl and a fentanyl derivative and did not cross-react with other opioids, such as morphine. That means a vaccinated person would still be able to be treated for pain relief with other opioids,” said Haile.

The vaccine tested contains an adjuvant derived from E. coli named dmLT. An adjuvant molecule boosts the immune system’s response to vaccines, a critical component for the effectiveness of anti-addiction vaccines. The adjuvant was developed by collaborators at the Tulane University School of Medicine and has proven vital to the efficacy of the vaccine. Also on the team are Greg Cuny, Joseph P. & Shirley Shipman Buckley Endowed Professor of Drug Discovery at the UH College of Pharmacy along with researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Michael E. DeBakey Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center.

Current treatments for OUD are methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone, and their effectiveness depends upon formulation, compliance, access to medications and the specific misused opioid.

Therese Kosten, professor of psychology and director of the Developmental, Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience program at UH, calls the new vaccine a potential “game changer.”

“Fentanyl use and overdose is a particular treatment challenge that is not adequately addressed with current medications because of its pharmacodynamics and managing acute overdose with the short-acting naloxone is not appropriately effective as multiple doses of naloxone are often needed to reverse fentanyl’s fatal effects,” said Kosten, senior author of the study.

Reference: “An Immunconjugate Vaccine Alters Distribution and Reduces the Antinociceptive, Behavioral and Physiological Effects of Fentanyl in Male and Female Rats” by Colin N. Haile, Miah D. Baker, Sergio A. Sanchez, Carlos A. Lopez Arteaga, Anantha L. Duddupudi, Gregory D. Cuny, Elizabeth B. Norton, Thomas R. Kosten and Therese A. Kosten, 26 October 2022, Pharmaceutics.
DOI: 10.3390/pharmaceutics14112290

The study was funded by the Department of Defense through the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders Program managed by RTI International’s Pharmacotherapies for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders Alliance, which has funded Haile’s lab for several years to develop the anti-fentanyl vaccine.

18 Comments on "Fentanyl Vaccine Breakthrough – Potential “Game Changer” for Opioid Epidemic"

  1. I think its Great they developed a vaccine! More people may be saved now, instead of dying from fentanyl. People are dropping like flies from overdoses! Its been horrible. Losing people that had way more life left in them.My prayers are with those families 🙏💚🙏.

  2. Wish this was around while my nephew still was.

  3. Is this the beginning of a new “War on Drug”? Will there be a Fentanyl 2 that still gives a high, followed by vaccine 2 that blocks it? …

  4. Anti-vaxxers also big pillheads. Real dilemma here.

  5. reallycan'tyoudobetter? | November 15, 2022 at 2:51 pm | Reply

    NARCAN® (generically known as naloxone) is a medication which can reverse a fentanyl overdose.
    vaccine = a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease
    (Fentanyl isn’t a disease, or pathogen)

  6. How soon will it come to the south carolina

  7. It says that this will prevent a person from attaining the “high” that fentanyl gives. How exactly, would this vaccine, prevent overdoses? Or, wouldn’t it? Isn’t that what this is all about?

  8. I feel this is great but what about the drug Tranq dope now spreading throughout 40 States. It is a mixture of Fentanyl & Xylazine (animal tranquilizer). This is very difficult to treat those who are addicted to this. The detox is horrible. This needs to booked into please!

  9. Witchcraft Vibes | November 16, 2022 at 6:30 am | Reply

    Haven’t you heard of natural selection let their high ass die

  10. Isn’t it actually an “antidote”? There is no living pathogen in fentanyl.

  11. Yeah, that sounds like something the good Wizard would say LOL

  12. What happens with chronic pain patients? Emergency surgery? How is this more efficient than Vivitrol injections, which can be medically reversed in the case of a medical emergency?

  13. Typical big pharma. Create the problem, in this case opioid abuse, and then create the solution. Big pharma has been pushing opioid use since the mid 1990’s when the Sackler (Perdue Pharmaceuticals) family was getting people hooked on Oxycontin. Today we see this monstrous problem elevated to the usage of fentanyl, even more deadly as about 100,000 are now dying from it every year. And like magic, we may have yet another “vaccine” to make it all better…at a cost of course.

  14. Robert Webman MDFACG | November 17, 2022 at 8:19 pm | Reply

    Fentanyl is useful and conscious sedation. If somebody has antibodies to it like this, we will have trouble sedating patients for procedures.

    In addition, it’s very likely that a side effect will be natural opioids that the individual makes for themselves will be less effective as well.

    This may make people much more susceptible to pain.

    When they try to use cannabinoid to control appetite, the cannabinoid blockers block, the natural cannabinoid’s that people making their own body resulting in severe depression and suicide.

    This approach has a long way to go before finding usefulness in society.

    • If One Hundred Thousand People Died in Surgery While Sedated w Fentynal EVERY Year, Would You Consider it “useful and concious sedation”??
      Probably not.

      One Hundred Thousand EVERY Year. Up from the 60/70 Thousand EVERY Year when it was only norcos and such.
      Thats just the dead. Theres many time that number with damage ranging from mild to debilitating.
      Add to that the continual suffering of families and friends of the dead and afflicted. Are we in the MILLIONS per year yet in the number of Human Beings Suffering PER YEAR because of one, (1), ONE!! medication??
      The answers “YES” when you add in the rest of world where it is marketed.

      How is this a good thing? There are safe and effective alternatives which pose no threat of addiction or overdose. These alternatives are well understood and have been widely used throughout history. More importantly is the regular and increasing use of cannibas over the last 20 years for a variety or maladys not the least of which is pain management.

      I know a LOT of people that use cannabis for a variety of reasons medically and I have yet to hear of it causing depression and suicide.
      In fact, what I keep hearing and seeing from people that started using cannabis to manage their pain after getting off opoids is the exact opposite of what your claiming.
      Doesnt match my experience either.

      Also, Ive never heard of using cannibinoids to control the appetite..

      Cannibas is normally used to whet the appetite not suppress it. I know more than one person that used it when they were going through chemo. THEY certainly were grateful to have it.

      So where are they doing that??

  15. Treatments like these have been around for years and they just arent effective. The patient will stop taking the blocker so they can get high again in almost every case.

  16. So did the change the defination of “vaccine” again?

    I swear the stupidity is hard to deal with but man, what is being done to the language is tsk tsk tsk..

    ok, so the problem is that this insanely powerful and quite deadly drug (which is the replacement for the slightly less insanely powerful, addicting and deadly drugs it replaced has and will continue to kill and destroy millions of lives because it is, as stated insanely powerful as well as insanely addicting.

    The answer is to quit making and using fentynal except perhaps for a general in a hospital setting.

    There is absolutely no reason to have rx pain killers so concentrated that a single overdosing can kill you outright. Norco and the rest you have to push pretty hard to od. Your elderly parent could mostly mess up and take an extra dose by mistake without dying. Not now.

    And how does taking the “high” out of the pain killer make it less deadly? The problem is with the potency of the drug and how little it takes to overdose. So give them the same deadly potency but with less or no high..wouldnt you think those addicted might be tempted to try using more to see if they could get past it?

    Ah, I think I understand whats going on. They are calling it a “vaccine” though it clearly is not. Why? Well if its a vacinne it can be mandated and therefore guaranteed profitable.
    Oh an addict huh? No problem. We will fix it so you can CONTINUE to be ADDICTED to our s****ty pain killers, which are still just as likely to kill you, but now, without any enjoyment what so ever….
    “your honor, the govt. will drop the charges if the defendent enters treatment and recieves the “vaccine” as ordered by the court”..

    who else is appalled?

  17. Natural selection ? Is that a real position you take ? That’s pretty strong to assume your loved ones will never be affected and to say let them die is to say let yours die. BTW study natural selection and tell me how you would relate the crisis and your version of natural selection. Maybe more like population control allowance . If we did not want this we would not allow it . United States wanted a war they can’t win . Build another tank assemble another private prison while we debate natural selection this is addiction crossed with biological warfare. Maybe there is somen fetynol in the next drink you take its certainly given many people a perfect tool to commit murder we are seeing it everywhere people walking with loaded syringes with enoughbfetynol to kill a battalion of armed men if introduced to waterbor food consumption or just get it jammed in there neck like canbyoubimagine ? Give me your wallet ! No? OK! Prick ! What was that? It was the end of your life there’s nobtakingit back no gunshots to call attention and a few moments of flailing and death throws can be covered up by a running motor

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