Research raises hopes Fentanyl vaccine may be answer to Opioid Use Disorder

A research team published an article in the journal Pharmaceutics, detailing a vaccine developed to cause immunized rats to produce anti-fentanyl antibodies which prevent fentanyl from entering the brain, and instead gets eliminated through the kidneys.

In a study published in Pharmaceutics, scientists tested their vaccine on 60 rats. The immunized animals could produce anti-fentanyl antibodies that stop the drug's effects, allowing it to exit out of the body via the kidneys. This blocks the "high" caused by fentanyl, and it would theoretically make it easier for people to quit using the drug or avoid a relapse.

Scientists Create a Vaccine Against Fentanyl | Smithsonian Magazine

The idea is an intriguing one, and while I can see an argument for protecting people who may inadvertently come in contact with Fentanyl, I can't stop thinking of this train station scene from Ghost, where Vincent Schiavelli's character stops mid-rant at the sight of cigarettes knocked loose from a vending machine he'd just damaged, saying: "Oh, I'd give anything for a drag! Just one drag!

The research team states that the vaccine would target fentanyl only, thus allowing existing opioid pain medication usage if one were vaccinated, or the ability to substitute another opioid for abuse instead:

"The anti-fentanyl antibodies were specific to fentanyl and a fentanyl derivative and did not cross-react with other opioids, such as morphine. That means a vaccinated person would still be able to be treated for pain relief with other opioids," said Haile. 

Fentanyl Vaccine Potential 'Game Changer' for Opioid Epidemic | University of Houston

The research team is now seeking FDA approval for the vaccine to begin human clinical trials. The Opioid Epidemic has seen fentanyl related deaths in the United States rise to the point that the average American is now closer in degrees to a fentanyl related death than to Kevin Bacon himself. While this may not be the best solution, it is a solution that shows great promise.