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Thursday, January 20, 2022

An experimental vaccine could help fight the opioid epidemic

Coping with the opioid crisis requires changing strategies and the way we think about addiction, says Columbia University professor Sandra Comer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 100,000 people died from drug overdoses between May 2020 and May 2021 – 22% more than the year before. Over the past two decades, nearly 1 million Americans have died from drug overdoses, more than 70% of which involve opioids.

“One of the mistakes people make when they think about drug users is, ‘Oh, it’s one’s choice to have this disorder.’ That’s not true,” she said. “It’s a medical disease and we need to treat it.”

Comer said that medically assisted treatments can be effective but have a remission rate of about 50%.

“That’s why we’re continuing to look for new drugs,” Comer said.

That discovery led to a new type of treatment – ​​a vaccine that targets the chemical makeup of oxycodone. Comer and his research colleague, Marco Pravetoni, are testing the vaccine on volunteers with substance use disorders.

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“The idea behind the vaccine is that after a while, the body will produce an antibody to that particular chemical structure,” Comer said. “If someone uses oxycodone, the antibody will bind to that molecule and it won’t let it into the brain.”

This means that the drug will never reach the brain enough to stimulate the pleasure center.

Comer said the vaccine provides a safety net for people who relapse despite currently available treatments.

“If they are reintroduced, hopefully the vaccine will at least provide some level of protection against overdose. And perhaps an opportunity for us to reintroduce them into treatment.”

Comer said the vaccine could be used with other drugs to treat drug abuse.

If it works, the researchers hope to target other opioids, including fentanyl and heroin.

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World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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