New Fentanyl vaccine on the horizon spells progress for Midwest’s battle against addiction

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Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a vaccine to block the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl from entering the brain in a study done with rats.

In Kansas City alone, the KCPD concluded that fentanyl overdoses skyrocketed by 150% in the downtown area from 2019 to 2022. The CDC released data that fentanyl-related deaths within the United States rose 350% from 2019 to 2022. 

Fentanyl has been proven to be more dangerous and stronger than morphine and heroin, and has been rampaging through the streets of Kansas City and beyond.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Kansas City Kansas school board put plans in action to stock Narcan in an attempt to provide students with medicine for treating overdoses. 

Narcan has also been made available at Kearney Middle School, Kearney Junior High School and Kearney High School back in May of 2022. Schools continue to ramp up anti-fentanyl preventative treatments as brain damage from an overdose can take place as early as from 3 to 5 minutes. 

“I’ve spoken with families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl poisoning and opioid overdose,” says Kansas Representative Sharice Davids. “I’ve met with law enforcement leadership, mental health experts, and education professionals in our community who deal with the impact of this epidemic every day. My position is informed by those conversations, and to get a handle on this problem, we need to take a holistic approach that includes life-saving tools like Narcan.”

As fentanyl disproportionately affects youth between the ages of 15 to 24 in the Kansas City area, supplying schools and public facilities with adequate treatment for overdoses may benefit areas where anti-drug preventative measures remain ineffective. With the potential of this new fentanyl vaccine on the way, students and parents may be able to take further precautionary measures within the coming years. 

The study at the University of Houston was first published in the journal Pharmaceutics, concluding that the vaccine effectively hindered the dangerous effects of the opioid in both males and females. 

The study was developed using rats, showing significant amounts of reduced fentanyl entry into the brain. The vaccine was developed with materials already in vaccines on the market and is expected to be safe and ready for further development for humans.

The clinical studies produced no negative side effects within the rats and will continue to further develop the vaccine in order to manufacture a safe and effective product.

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