HOUSTON (NewsNation) — As overdose deaths claim the lives of 150 Americans per day, researchers are working to develop a vaccine for fentanyl.
The work to make a vaccine to combat Opioid Use Disorder, which has a relapse rate of 80-90%, according to experts, has been underway at the University of Houston.
Dr. Colin Haile and Therese Kosten are among those working on the project.
“If someone takes fentanyl and has been vaccinated, the antibodies produced by the vaccine binds to fentanyl and prevents it from getting into the brain altogether,” said Haile, of the University of Houston.
While a vaccine could end the cycle of addiction, it would not prevent accidental overdoses among those experimenting with street drugs, which are often laced with fentanyl. Narcan still remains a timely lifesaver in those cases.
For those struggling with addiction, the future possibility of regular vaccinations would likely be more effective than daily therapies such as methadone.
“So every day, you need to make that decision that you want to quit using drugs, whereas with a vaccine, you only have to make that decision once in a while,” said Kosten, a psychology professor.
So far, in lab studies, there have been no adverse side effects from the experimental vaccine. Researchers hope to begin human trials soon but, realistically, any fentanyl vaccine is at least a year away.