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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vaccines For Drug Addictions Are Showing New Promise

The disease of addiction is a biological disorder in the brain that affects the award system and is in no way a moral failing by any means. Science has shined a new light on addiction and has given us the ability to understand what is operating in the human brain. Addiction is inherited and is not something that anyone asks to have, new developments in science have shown us that it may be possible to create a medical solution to the disease. Vaccines for drug addiction are showing new promise; it may not be long before we have a vaccine for all addictive substances. A report in the LA Times stated, "Vaccines to help people recover from such addictions as nicotine, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines now appear scientifically and medically achievable after doctors reported Monday that a vaccine to treat cocaine dependence had produced a large enough antibody response to reduce cocaine use in 38% of addicted individuals". 38% is an amazing number and one that reaffirms the promise of these kinds of scientific pursuits.

A vaccine for addiction will not work the same way as normal vaccines. If you are born with a hereditary disposition towards drugs and alcohol there is no way to reverse it. However, a vaccine could potentially keep drugs that enter the body from reaching the brain thus preventing the high from ever being experienced. The vaccines stimulate the body's immune system to create binding antibodies that will attach themselves to the drug preventing them from ever reaching the brain. Unfortunately, creating vaccines does not equate to dollars for pharmaceutical companies to create these vaccines. They can make a lot more money from addiction maintenance than they could off a vaccine. This problem makes it very hard for certain studies to take place because of the lack of much needed funding which is in the 100's of millions. An ethical dilemma is clearly visible and I am sure will be addressed in the coming years.

Studies with the goal of creating a vaccine is a huge step in modern science and shows us that with understanding we can treat the most baffling of diseases. In the coming years we will see what role vaccines for drug addiction will have around the world and whether the pharmaceutical companies will set greed aside and hop on board. I encourage you to watch a Dr. Nancy Snyderman video on the subject:

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