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Researchers Develop Fentanyl Vaccine That Could Stop Opioid Use Disorder Relapses

According to news report, rearchers at the University of Houston have developed a fentanyl vaccine that could prevent relapses for individuals with opioid use disorder.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. According to the CDC, It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.. There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Both are considered synthetic opioids.

“Our vaccine is able to generate anti-fentanyl antibodies that bind to the consumed fentanyl and prevent it from entering the brain, allowing it to be eliminated out of the body via the kidneys,” lead author Colin Haile, MD, PhD, research associate professor of psychology at the university, said. “Thus, the individual will not feel the euphoric effects and can ‘get back on the wagon’ to sobriety.”

The vaccine contains an adjuvant derived from E. coli called dmLT, according to a Nov. 14 release from the university. This component boosts the immune system’s response to vaccines, increasing the effectiveness. It caused no adverse side effects in animal trials, according to the findings published in Pharmaceutics.

Eighty percent of people with opioid use disorder will relapse, the release said. About 2 milligrams of fentanyl, or the size of two grains of rice, can lead to a fatal overdose.

The team plans to manufacture a clinical-grade vaccine for human trials in the coming months, according to the release.

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