Local researchers given $1.6M grant to study heroine vaccine - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local researchers given $1.6M grant to study heroine vaccine

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LA JOLLA (CNS) - Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute announced Thursday that they won a $1.6 million federal grant to perform further studies on a potential heroin vaccine.

The use of heroin has accelerated dramatically in recent years, as have related overdoses and deaths.

"There are a lot of people and families affected by heroin addiction," said Kim Janda, a professor of chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI.

A vaccine developed two years ago by Janda and TSRI colleagues has proven safe and effective in mice, according to TSRI.

The vaccine trains immune system antibodies to recognize and bind to heroin molecules, blocking the drug's active products from reaching the brain to trigger a high. Without that high, scientists believe recovering drug addicts will be much less likely to relapse.

The National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse grant, which could be extended an additional three years, will pay for TSRI testing for stability and the best manufacturing strategy.

After that, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University will determine its safety and effectiveness in primates.

Janda hopes to use a similar strategy to design a vaccine against other abused opioid drugs, such as oxycodone, or Oxycotin, and hydrocodone, otherwise known as Vicodin.

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