Study: Meth vaccine shows encouraging results in early stages

Methamphetamine. Image courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Results from an early stage study have shown that rats vaccinated with an experimental methamphetamine vaccine did not display the usual effects of exposure to the drug.

Two years ago, researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) developed six possible vaccines for methamphetamine, a drug that roughly 13 million people older than 12 in the U.S. have used in their lifetime, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Meth addiction affects an estimated 25 million people globally, according to a statement from TSRI.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that can be taken orally, snorted or injected and causes severe long term effects such as violent behavior, insomnia, dental problems and confusion. In addition, those who inject meth are at risk of acquiring diseases such as HIV/AIDs, according to the NIDA.

It is considered a Schedule II stimulant in the U.S., which means it has limited medical use and a high potential for abuse, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Each of the six vaccines contained a chemical cognate of methamphetamine attached to a larger molecule that causes an antibody response. Of the six original vaccines, one – MH6 – showed the most promising results in blocking meth side effects, according to TSRI.

A more in-depth study was performed on MH6 that showed vaccinated rats retained more meth in their bloodstream, rather than in their nervous system. This prevented side effects such as increased physical activity and a spike in body temperature.

The end goal is to create a human vaccine that is affordable to those with meth addiction, according to the statement.

Vaccines for other addictive substances, such as nicotine and cocaine, currently are undergoing clinical trials.

“This is an early-stage study, but its results are comparable to those for other drug vaccines that have then gone to clinical trials,” said Michael A. Taffe, an associate professor in TSRI’s addiction science group, the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders. He also is the senior author on the study, which soon will be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

To read the full release from TSRI, click here.

For more information for NIDA on how methamphetamine affects the body, click here.

For information on Neogen’s methamphetamine test kits, click here.

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