ARTICLE | Tools & Techniques

Dynamic detox

July 28, 2011 7:00 AM UTC

A team at The Scripps Research Institute has created a heroin vaccine that, unlike conventional single-antigen vaccines, displays multiple drug-like antigens. The vaccine led to robust antibody titers that blocked the effects of heroin in rats, and the team now plans to evaluate the extent of vaccine protection by giving animals escalating doses of heroin.1 As opposed to current options for preventing heroin addiction, the new vaccine does not carry a risk of abuse or diversion and should not raise compliance issues.

Typically vaccines lead to production of antibodies that target one antigen. Although the Scripps vaccine initially induces the production of antibodies targeting heroin, the vaccine is slowly broken down by the body, allowing the production of antibodies targeting heroin's metabolites 6-acetylmorphine and morphine. Heroin, 6-acetylmorphine and morphine all contribute to the psychotropic effects of the drug (see "Immunochemically dynamic vaccine")...