IN THE BRAIN? –  

Sept. 7, 2021 –  A similar vaccine that prevents opioids from reaching the brain also is being developed by Virginia Tech researchers.

This vaccine was developed by Marco Pravetoni, a University of Minnesota researcher who has helped conduct preclinical studies on a series of vaccines designed to counteract side effects caused by oxycodone, fentanyl and heroin. Those side effects include depressed breathing and depressed heart rate.

The oxycodone vaccine specifically stimulates the immune system’s production of antibodies that prevent the drug from entering the brain and creating the high users crave.

Because it only targets oxycodone, researchers say the vaccine won’t interfere with any Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs such as methadone, buprenorphone, naltrexone and naloxone.

In preclinical studies, animals that received the vaccine self-administered the oxycodone less and were protected from toxicity and signs of overdose, including respiratory depression. 

“In this study, my laboratory will conduct pharmacokinetic and immunological monitoring in blood samples from immunized volunteers to ensure that they are making antibodies to oxycodone and determine whether the antibodies are preventing the drug from reaching the brain,” Pravetoni said.

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