TSRI conducts successful trial of vaccine which counters heroin relapse

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute reported on Tuesday the successful trial of a vaccine that blocks the blood-brain barrier for heroin, countering relapse.

The vaccine targets heroin in the bloodstream and the psychoactive products it produces when broken down, then prevent the products from reaching the brain. This overcomes an addict's constant desire for the drug, or relapse, on the way to becoming clean.

"Heroin-addicted rats deprived of the drug will normally resume using it compulsively if they regain access, but our vaccine stops this from happening," George F. Koob, chairman of TSRI's addiction research group, the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, said.

The vaccine must still be tested in human trials, but if successful, it can become a standard immunization for heroin addicts in rehabilitation therapy. Heroin addiction affects over 10 million people worldwide.

Koob, TSRI Professor Kim Janda and their students led the vaccine study, which was published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.