A vaccine against fentanyl addiction is showing promising results in a recent study.
Research published in the American journal Neuropsychopharmacology last week found that a fentanyl antigen (an antigen triggers the production of antibodies) combined with a type of tetanus vaccine decreased drug-taking behaviour in rats and increased food choices, according to a news release.
British Columbia reported more than 1,300 illicit drug overdose deaths related to fentanyl in 2018, an increase of seven per cent from 2017.
“More effective and readily available treatments for opioid use disorder are needed to tackle the current crisis,” said lead authors Kim Janda, a professor at Scripps Research in San Diego, and Dr. Matthew Banks of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
“One strategy includes using opioid-targeted vaccines to elicit antibody production by the host’s immune system that recognize and block the passage of a specific opioid into the brain and peripheral organs/tissue.”
The study focused on the rats’ behavioural patterns and the number of times they chose fentanyl injections or food.
Before the treatment, rats chose a large amount of fentanyl, but within four weeks of being vaccinated, the number of times they chose the drug decreased.
The effectiveness of the vaccine has not been studied in humans.