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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Jun 15 16:42:00 EDT 2011

Toward a vaccine for methamphetamine abuse

Scientists are reporting development of three promising formulations that could be used in a vaccine to treat methamphetamine addiction — one of the most serious drug abuse problems in the U.S. The report appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the paper, Kim Janda and colleagues note that methamphetamine use and addiction cost the U.S. more than $23 billion annually due to medical and law enforcement expenses, as well as lost productivity. The drug, also called “meth” or “crystal meth,” can cause a variety of problems including cardiovascular damage and death. Meth is highly addictive, and users in conventional behavioral treatment programs often relapse. Previously tested meth vaccines either are not effective or are very expensive. To overcome these challenges, the researchers made and tested new vaccine formulations that could potentially be effective for long periods, which would drive down costs and help prevent relapse.

The group found that three of the new formulations that produced a good immune response in mice (stand-ins for humans in the lab) were particularly promising. “These findings represent a unique approach to the design of new vaccines against methamphetamine abuse,” say the researchers.

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.

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A new vaccine now in development may help treat
addiction to methamphetamine.

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