The opioid crisis around the world has been making continual headlines over the last 12 months as the crisis deepens, particularly in the likes of the USA. 

Private drug treatment centres are recording a record high number of patients in many parts of North America as people look to get the help they need, while the number of overdose deaths is of grave concern.

However, good news may be on the horizon as researchers have reported that they have potentially created a vaccine to help fight fentanyl addiction which would be an outstanding breakthrough in the war against the drug.

Coming in injection form, the shot would prevent fentanyl from being able to enter the brain, which in turn would see the “high” that fentanyl users crave diminish and essentially help with misuse and those trying to quit opioids.

The treatment is still in trial phase at present, with Colin Haile of the University of Houston specialising in psychology stating of the report, “We believe these findings could have a significant impact on a very serious problem plaguing society for years — opioid misuse.”

He added, “Our vaccine is able to generate anti-fentanyl antibodies that bind to the consumed fentanyl and prevent it from entering the brain, allowing it to be eliminated out of the body via the kidneys. Thus, the individual will not feel the euphoric effects and can ‘get back on the wagon’ to sobriety.”

The initial trials were undertaken on animals, but there are plans for manufacturing a clinical grade version of the vaccine to begin testing on humans in a bid to get it out to market swiftly and help with the ongoing battle against fentanyl, which is killing approximately 150 people per day in the USA alone. 

The drug has caused devastation in the USA due to the fact it’s 50-times stronger than heroin and 100-times stronger than morphine, with even a small amount running the risk of death. 

To tackle the problem, Naloxone is currently being used to reverse the effects of an overdose, while a number of charities and community groups have set up clinics to aid those addicted to the substance in administering the drug safely and providing support for anyone who does overdose. 

It’s a practice that has already saved millions of lives, but this breakthrough could well prove to be the beginning of the end for what has been a truly horrific epidemic.

By Manali