Fentanyl vaccine could be game-changer in America’s drug crisis

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With fentanyl being the number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 45, a new fentanyl antibody treatment has the potential to save millions of lives. Cessation Therapeutics, a North Carolina biotech company, has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the first-of-its-kind treatment on humans. It’s already shown promise in mice and non-human primates.

“Our vaccine is able to generate anti-fentanyl antibodies that bind to the consumed fentanyl and prevent it from entering the brain, allowing it to be eliminated out of the body via the kidneys,” Colin Haile, the study’s lead author and a research associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston, said in a statement.

The company says the treatment doesn’t enter the brain either, so it’s not addictive.

Unlike Narcan, which’s given after an overdose, the antibody would be given by a doctor before someone uses fentanyl. The treatment has been shown to be effective for around a month in non-human testing.

“We’re trying to get to high-risk individuals before they experience an overdose and provide a protective mechanism in the form of this antibody, so fentanyl is rendered ineffective,” Cessation Therapeutics chief scientific officer Andy Barrett told ABC7 News.

“Our goal is to keep these people alive so that they can go and get other treatments,” Cessation Therapeutics CEO Tracy Woody told ABC7 News.

Antibody therapies are being used to treat or prevent an increasing number of diseases and infections, including COVID-19, Crohn’s disease, and bladder cancer.