Vaccine to beat heroin addiction 'is just five years away'
A vaccine against heroin addiction could be ready for human use in just five years.
Mexico's Health Secretary Salomon Chertorivski said the Government had patented the treatment after successfully testing it on addicted rats.
'The next step is testing on humans,' he told reporters on a visit to the border town Ciudad Juarez.
Ewan MacGregor portrayed a heroin addict in the 1996 film Trainspotting. He was shown suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Now scientists believe a vaccine could help drug users
He said the breakthrough, made by scientists at the National Institute of Psychiatry (INP) had far-reaching implications.
'It is going to be a process that will still take at least five years work,' he said.
'And it’s not only heroin…
that’s what’s been patented so far but we’re advancing rapidly on
cocaine and methamphetamines.'
According to the Spanish-language newspaper Reforma, the vaccine works by provoking an immune response that blocks heroin from entering the nervous system and attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain stem. This reduces the impact of the drug 'hit' that has a similar effect to a rush of endorphins.
Experiments on rats addicted to heroin found the cravings disappeared as a result because it reduced the desire to take continual doses.
Addiction: Injecting heroin and sharing needles spread HIV and hepatitis C
Mara Elena Medina Mora, director of the INP, said: 'The
vaccine will not be the solution to all addictions, but is one way to
confront the problem, above all in the treatment field.
'It is hoped that the vaccinated
person will have a lower desire to consume the drug because the dose of
the vaccine will block the pleasure of taking it.
'Obviously the drug user has to want to quit drugs and have other types of pyschiatric help.'
During his tour, Mr Chertorivski looked at the advances being made in the drug addiction programmes in the area and also at the quality of medical care in the city.
Heroin is a drug made from morphine, which is extracted from the opium poppy. According to UK charity Talk to Frank, a small dose of heroin gives the user a feeling of warmth and well-being, bigger doses can make you sleepy and very relaxed. Overdoses can lead to coma and even death.
It is highly addictive Class A drug and withdrawal symptoms are severe and include diarrhoea, vomiting, depression, pain sensitivity and fever.
For more information visit www.talktofrank.com