UNM researchers are developing a vaccine that could fight opioid addiction | KOB 4
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UNM researchers are developing a vaccine that could fight opioid addiction

Ryan Laughlin
June 13, 2019 05:23 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a lab on the campus of the University of New Mexico, researchers are working on what could be the next tool to help end the opioid epidemic. 

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Dr. Kathryn Frietze heads the team designing a new vaccination meant to target opioids. 

"The anti-bodies would bind to the drug if somebody takes the drug," Frietze said. "Then it would stop it from getting to the brain." 

The team received a $250,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to try and design a vaccination meant for people seeking help with opioid addiction. They are a few weeks away from testing the vaccination on mice. 

"We are not just making a vaccination against one opioid, we're targeting a lot of different opioids," she said. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. is averaging 130 opioid-related overdose deaths every day. 

"The fact that we can potentially contribute and help in a major problem that our country is facing right now is really exciting," Frietze said. 

She said it usually takes between five and 10 years for the vaccination to be available for human use — but she said the opioid epidemic is such a problem that the federal government's interest could speed things along. 

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Ryan Laughlin

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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