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Development of a Clinically-Viable Heroin Vaccine

Journal of the American Chemical Society | 3 Jun 2017

PT Bremer, JE Schlosburg, ML Banks, FF Steele, B Zhou, JL Poklis and KD Janda
Heroin is a highly abused opioid and incurs a significant detriment to society worldwide. In an effort to expand the limited pharmacotherapy options for opioid use disorders, a heroin conjugate vaccine was developed through comprehensive evaluation of hapten structure, carrier protein, adjuvant and dosing. Immunization of mice with an optimized heroin-tetanus toxoid (TT) conjugate formulated with adjuvants alum and CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) generated heroin ‘immunoantagonism’, reducing heroin potency by >15-fold. Moreover, the vaccine effects proved to be durable, persisting for over eight months. The lead vaccine was effective in rhesus monkeys, generating significant and sustained anti-drug IgG titers in each subject. Characterization of both mouse and monkey anti-heroin antibodies by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) revealed low nanomolar antiserum affinity for the key heroin metabolite, 6-acetylmorphine (6AM), with minimal cross reactivity to clinically-used opioids. Following a series of heroin challenges over six months in vaccinated monkeys, drug-sequestering antibodies caused marked attenuation of heroin potency (>4-fold) in a schedule-controlled responding (SCR) behavioral assay. Overall, these preclinical results provide an empirical foundation supporting the further evaluation and potential clinical utility of an effective heroin vaccine in treating opioid use disorders.
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Vaccine, Heroin, Primate, Immunologic adjuvant, Opioid, Surface plasmon resonance, Morphine, Immune system
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