Wouldn’t it be great if there were vaccines to prevent drug addiction? Say, a shot to keep smokers from getting a nicotine rush. Or that prevented a cocaine high? Well, research scientists are convinced it’s just a matter of time.
Vaccines are being developed that are similar to those that fight diseases, like mumps and polio. In other words, it’d get your immune system to produce antibodies to keep a specific narcotic from affecting your body or brain. But unlike disease vaccines, they’d only be given after someone had become addicted, in order to remove temptation.
Addiction vaccines are the life’s work of Dr. Kim Janda, a professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute. He’s been working for 27 years to create vaccines that protect against addictive substances. And he says it’s much harder to create a vaccine against drugs. The molecules for addictive substances like cocaine, nicotine and meth are much smaller than disease molecules, and the immune system tends to ignore them. So, the vaccine has to trick the body into noticing them before it can fight them.
But the research is promising. In a recent test, coke addicts were vaccinated.
And when they later snorted coke – and didn’t get high – they thought the coke was fake.
Other researchers are getting close to vaccines against Rohypnol – the date-rape drug. And obesity, which would block the production of ghrelin – the compound that signals the brain that you’re hungry.
A lot of these vaccines are still on the drawing board – but we’ll keep you posted on their progress.