Tackling the opioid disaster requires altering methods and the way in which we take into consideration dependancy, says Columbia University professor Sandra Comer.
At least 100,000 folks died from a drug overdose between May 2020 and May 2021 — up 22% from the yr earlier than, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the final twenty years, almost 1 million Americans have died from drug overdoses, with greater than 70% of them involving opioids.
“One of the mistakes that people make when they think about drug users, ‘Oh, it’s somebody’s choice to have this disorder.’ That’s not true,” she stated. “It’s a medical disease and we need to treat it.”
Medically assisted remedies will be efficient however have a relapse price of about 50%, Comer stated.
“That’s why we’re continuing to look for new medications,” Comer stated.
That search led to a brand new kind of remedy — a vaccine that targets the chemical make-up of oxycodone. Comer and her analysis colleague, Marco Pravetoni, are testing the vaccine on volunteers with substance use dysfunction.
“The idea behind the vaccine is that after a while, the body will produce an antibody to that particular chemical structure,” Comer stated. “If somebody uses oxycodone, the antibody will bind to that molecule and it won’t allow it to get into the brain.”
That means the drug would by no means get to the mind to stimulate the pleasure middle.
Comer added that the vaccine gives a security internet for individuals who relapse regardless of at the moment accessible therapies.
“If they relapse, the vaccine hopefully will provide still some level of protection, at least against overdose. And maybe an opportunity for us to reengage them in treatment,” she stated.
The vaccine could possibly be used with different medicines that deal with drug abuse, Comer stated.
If it really works, researchers hope to focus on different opioids, together with fentanyl and heroin.