The opioid crisis that is currently going on in United States can come to an end with the new opioid vaccine which is under development by America. Reports show that more than 71000 opioid overdose deaths have occurred in US in 1-year period that ended in February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that this is the highest record in history.
Researchers have been conducting studies in this field for years to find out a solution for the opioid-related overdose death rate in America. Opioid vaccine is the latest addition to the solution for controlling opioid overdose in citizens.
The first vaccine clinical trials are already undergoing in Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The vaccine was designed and developed by Dr. Marco Pravetoni, a professor of pharmacology and medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School
Sandra Comer, a professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center is the lead investigator of the clinical trials. Ms. Comer says that they need innovative approaches to address the opioid crisis because they see a rise in opioid overdose deaths every day.
The opioid use disorder is the misuse and addiction to opioids including medicinal substances such as pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic substances like fentanyl. CDC reports that the total financial burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in America is over $78.5 billion annually.
The opioid pain relievers that the pharmaceutical companies manufacture are addictive and in late 1990s, healthcare providers began prescribing them in increased rates. This led to widespread substance abuse across the country, which is referred as Opioid overdose crisis by CDC.
Currently authorities use highly effective treatments, such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone, to bring the opioid related deaths to a lower level. Ms Comer says that these treatments are not enough for fighting the opioid crisis.
Researchers are testing the vaccine against oxycodone in the phase one trial for the first time in untreated people with opioid use disorder. Vaccines for heroin and fentanyl are also under development.
The vaccine works by targeting opioid molecules by producing antibodies required to bind with them. This prevents the opioid from reaching the brain. This prevents the patient from feeling euphoric. If the vaccine is proved to be effective, it could curb opioid use disorder and open new doors for other scientific explorations in antibody-based treatments.