The Heroin Vaccine You Never Heard Of

By Brent McCluskey

A potential wonder drug has seen scant media attention and even less development money.

A promising heroin vaccine has been in the works for some time, and it has even shown great success in clinical trials on rats. Yet, this wonder drug has received little media attention and even less funding.

Chemist Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute has spent decades working on vaccines for meth, cocaine, and date-rape drugs, but it’s the vaccine for heroin that appears closest to completion.

Janda has conducted clinical trials of the vaccine on rats, and the results were more than positive. Those test subjects that were injected showed no signs of relapse and were no longer addicted to heroin.

“It’s really dramatic,” said Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “You can inject a rat with 10 times the dose of heroin that a normal rat [could handle] and they just look at you like nothing happened. It’s extraordinary.”

But despite Janda’s triumphs, the research has received little in the way of funding.