WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Study: Monoclonal antibodies can block heroin's effects

A study at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health finds that immunotherapy may have a place in the treatment of substance abuse, the institute said Tuesday.

Researchers and scientists investigated whether a monoclonal antibody can block heroin's effects. In animal studies, it was confirmed that there is a clear correlation between the amount of 6- monoacetylmorphine antibodies supplied to the inhibited transmission of 6-MAM to the brain and reduced heroin effects.

"Designing a vaccine against heroin is particularly challenging since heroin is converted rapidly to several substances," Department of Drug Research and Method Development Researcher Inger Lise Bogen said. "Drug vaccines will not be a simple solution to treat substance abuse, but can be a useful supplement to existing treatment.”

Previous studies have shown that 6-MAM unleashes rapid and intense heroin side effects and that the conversion of heroin to 6-MAM occurs primarily in the bloodstream, before the drug enters the brain, as antibodies circulate in the blood and bind to the drug after it’s taken or ingested. It is also known that an antibody given after intake of a drug could potentially reduce the risk of death stemming from an overdose.

"Our study shows that an antibody against 6-MAM effectively blocks the acute heroin effects and that passive immunization against drugs is feasible," researcher Jannike Mørch Andersen said.

Andersen said the study confirms that 6-MAM is responsible for heroin's acute intoxicant effects and also noted that future vaccines against heroin must be targeted toward 6-MAM.

And while these results are positive, more research and studies must be done and evaluated.