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Anti-Heroin Vaccine Shows Promise Against Lethal Doses

Last Updated: February 16, 2018.

A toll-like receptor 9 agonist in the presence of alum is stable over a month and elicits strong anti-heroin antibody titers and blockade of heroin-induced antinociception, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in Molecular Pharmaceutics.

FRIDAY, Feb. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist in the presence of alum is stable over a month and elicits strong anti-heroin antibody titers and blockade of heroin-induced antinociception, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Candy S. Hwang, Ph.D., from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and colleagues systematically explored 20 vaccine formulations with varying combinations of carrier proteins and adjuvants to improve the efficacy of a heroin conjugate vaccine. A TLR9 agonist (cytosine-guanine oligodeoxynucleotide 1826) and a TLR3 agonist (virus-derived genomic doubled-stranded RNA) in the presence of alum were assessed.

The researchers found that strong anti-heroin antibody titers were elicited with vaccine formulations containing TLR3 or TLR9 agonist alone; blockade of heroin-induced antinociception was elicited when formulated with alum. Efficacy was not improved with the combination of TLR3 and nine adjuvants. When stored as a lyophilized solid or as a liquid for longer than 30 days, the TLR9 but not the TLR3 formulation was stable. Significant protection from lethal heroin doses was seen for mice immunized with the TLR9 + alum heroin vaccine.

"This vaccine formulation is suitable for mitigating the harmful effects of heroin, even following month-long storage at room temperature," the authors write.

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