The National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse granted The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) an Avant-Garde Award, to work on developing a drug to help provide a heroin vaccine for drug addicts.
The award will provide TSRI a $1.6 million grant to be disbursed over a two-year period. The grant can be renewed for up to three additional years.
“There are a lot of people and families affected by heroin addiction,” Kim Janda, a chemistry professor and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI, said.
Janda started working on a vaccine in 2013, along with several of his colleagues, and will lead this new project. The initial vaccine that was developed tested positively on mice and proved to be safe. It works by training the immune system to bind to heroin molecules, then put up a wall to stop the brain from receiving the high. With this new vaccine, they believe drug addicts will be less likely to relapse.
TSRI is teaming up with Virginia Commonwealth University and Molecular Express Inc. to make a more reliable vaccine.