A new vaccine has shown potential to effectively suppress the addiction liability and overdose potential of prescription opioids; oxycodone (oxy) and hydrocodone (hydro). 

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TRSI) developed the vaccine, which combines a signature opioid structure with a molecule to trigger an immune response, effectively telling the immune system to bind to the drug molecule and remove it from circulation. 

“The vaccine approach stops the drug before it even gets to the brain,” said study co-author Cody J. Wenthur. The vaccine could have an advantage over current opioid addiction therapies in that it would not alter brain chemistry. 

Related Articles

In lab tests conducted on mice given oxy/hydro, those given the vaccine did not display the usual symptoms of ignoring pain and discomfort. The researchers also found that it took much longer for the drug to impart its toxicity, which, if true with humans, may extend the window of time for clinical assistance in cases of overdose. Moreover, the vaccine was found to be effective over the entire 60-day study period.

“The protection against overdose death was unforeseen but clearly of enormous potential clinical benefit,” said Kim D. Janda, the Ely R. Callaway Jr. Professor of Chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI. 

It was also found that the drug, once the antibodies bound to it, stayed in the body (though neutralized) for a longer period of time. The researchers stated that the next stage of research will investigate this further, as well as possible optimal doses and schedules. They also declared that it may be possible to make the vaccine even more effective. 

For more information visit Pubs.acs.org.