Synthetic psychoactive drugs have become a serious public health threat in recent years. This is particularly true of the fentanyls, a large family of synthetic opioids, which can be up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Synthetic opioids are highly addictive and, because of their potency, often prove fatal: among the roughly 72,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2017, some 30,000 were related to synthetic opioids.
But researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have created monoclonal antibodies–made by identical immune cells–that are effective against several synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and the deadliest of the fentanyls, carfentanil. Their findings could both combat opioid addiction as well as reduce overdose deaths.
The study looked at the efficacy of vaccines containing the newly developed opioid antibodies in animals. The team, led by Kim Janda, tested the antibodies using a common pain response challenge, in which a heated beam of light is applied to a mouse’s tail. The time it takes for the mouse to withdraw its tail is measured: quick reactions suggest the animal is feeling pain, whereas a longer response suggests that pain response has been muted.
Mice that were given opioids such as fentanyl or carfentanil without the antibody exhibited a big reduction in tail withdrawal, suggesting they could not sense the pain. When they were given the opioid-blocking antibody, tail withdrawal was normalized, suggesting that the vaccine blocked the analgesic effects of the drug.
The researchers then tested whether the vaccine could prevent against lethal overdose. In mice administered the vaccine followed by a dose of fentanyl that was fatal in non-vaccinated animals. All the vaccinated mice were protected from overdose.
The antibodies were also effective against other forms of fentanyl, including carfentanil and seven other analogs, in both pain tests and lethality studies.
Janda’s team has begun to develop human antibodies to synthetic opioids, and will test their efficacy in the future. “When it comes to the very powerful opioid carfentanil the current treatment for this opioid’s induced lethality does not work very well–it has no staying power,” says Janda. “Antibodies persist longer, and thus have enormous promise for addressing both opioid addiction as well as overdose.”
A synthetic opioid vaccine might also be used as a prophylactic measure to protect people at risk of coming into contact with the drugs, such as first responders, who have occasionally overdosed by inhaling tiny quantities of fentanyl. “These antibodies could be used to protect police, EMTs, and other first responders from inadvertent acute fentanyl exposure,” says Janda. “A canine version might even one day be used to protect drug-sniffing dogs.”
Learn more: Vaccine could help address the opioid epidemic
The Latest on: Opioid epidemic
via Google News
The Latest on: Opioid epidemic
- Post-surgical patch releases non-opioid painkiller directly to the woundon January 12, 2021 at 9:46 pm
DURHAM, N.C. - A Duke-led team of scientists has developed a bio-compatible surgical patch that releases non-opioid painkillers directly to the site of a wound for days and then dissolves ...
- Florida leaders concerned about opioid crisis worsening amid COVID-19 pandemicon January 12, 2021 at 9:27 pm
There has been a rise in opioid use and overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the founder of the Opioid Project, Andrae Bailey, and the issue has caught the attention of Florida Rep.
- Mass. US Attorney says opioid epidemic remains biggest threaton January 12, 2021 at 6:36 pm
Andrew Lelling says while the US Capitol riots, civil unrest and extremist groups are all concerns, a topic that hasn't received much attention in the past year remains a major threat. TOP STORIES ...
- AG Fitch and 47 attorneys general ask FDA for progress report on opioid fighton January 12, 2021 at 4:28 pm
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general asking the FDA to report on its progress in the national fight against opioid abuse.T ...
- ‘The Goodlands,’ the documentary about Philly’s opioid crisis from a former Chipotle executiveon January 12, 2021 at 2:31 pm
The former CEO of Chipotle created a documentary regarding the opioid crisis in Kensington. Photo: Reddit. Philadelphia’s Kensington section, which was once known for its working-class Irish community ...
- Pandemic helped opioid epidemic surge in Ohioon January 12, 2021 at 11:56 am
April, May and June— set a record for the largest spike in opioid overdose deaths in Ohio in a decade. “COVID-19 has really stolen the show,” said Carole Negus, director of nursing at Stella Maris.
- Hunter asking federal regulators for update in fight against opioid epidemicon January 12, 2021 at 11:52 am
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is asking federal regulators for an update in the fight against opioid abuse.
- Ohio opioid overdose deaths hit highest rate in 10 years, task force reportson January 12, 2021 at 8:09 am
More Ohioans died of an opioid overdose during the second quarter of 2020 than any three-month period over the last 10 years, according to a task force Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost created.
- Kentucky's other epidemic has grown worse in the shadow of COVID-19on January 12, 2021 at 3:32 am
We find ourselves at risk of losing an entire generation to opioid abuse, a trend accelerated by the stress and isolation brought on by the pandemic.
via Bing News