President Trump recently called the opioid epidemic a “national emergency” which starts the process of devoting more federal and states resources to tackle the problem. He didn’t mention any specifics, but it could mean states would have access to the Disaster Relief Fund, just like if there was a tornado or hurricane.
More and more states are treating this problem like a disease, and researchers recently announced at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) they’ve made significant progress toward developing a vaccine against the effects of opioids like heroin. The research is still in its infancy and hasn’t been testing on humans but it looks promising.
Our bodies can’t detect opioid molecules the way we can detect viral ones because they are so small. The researchers have found a way to link opioid molecules to the larger ones our bodies can detect. In result, the body creates antibodies that bind to the opioid molecules and prevent them from attaching to opioid receptors. This method has been successful against fentanyl and also against a combination of fentanyl and heroin.
Next up will be clinical trials and if it works out this could be a powerful new weapon against a problem that is claiming more and more lives every year.