Not logged in [Login - Register]
 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Non-chemistry » Legal and Societal Issues » The Technological Sword Cuts Both Ways: Vaccines Being Developed Against Nicotine, Cocaine, Heroin, and Likely Amphetamines Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Miscellaneous Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication   » References Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues   » Whimsy   » Detritus   » The Moderators' Lounge

Author: Subject: The Technological Sword Cuts Both Ways: Vaccines Being Developed Against Nicotine, Cocaine, Heroin, and Likely Amphetamines
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

The Technological Sword Cuts Both Ways: Vaccines Being Developed Against Nicotine, Cocaine, Heroin, and Likely Amphetamines

Xenova, a UK-based pharmaceutical firm, is pioneering a radically different immunological approach that some say could win the War on Drugs.

Now in FDA Phase Two studies, vaccines against nicotine and cocaine, respectively, administered once, prevent the individual from ever getting a high from these stimulants again.

The technological concept is brilliantly simple: attach a peptide to the stimulant molecule, inject this, and the vaccine triggers an immune response that the stimulant per se is too small to cause. The antibodies thus formed become a permanent part of the individual's immune system. Any nicotine (in one instance) or cocaine (in the other) consumed at a later date is immediately attacked and destroyed by the body's own defenses precisely as if it were an invading pathogen. The result: never a high, ever again, from that substance.

The principle has been demonstrated succesfully for the case of heroin in ape subjects.

Informed sources comment that an amphetamine vaccine is under sevelopment.
not_important
International Hazard

Posts: 3874
Registered: 21-7-2006
Member Is Offline

Given that several interviews with Gold include statements along the lines of
 Quote: The antibodies generally persist for about 6 months.
the "never again" sounds a bit of snake oil.

Just one more tool for the do-gooder nanny state to use against the individual. Don't get vaccinated and your name goes on the Do Not Hire list (like the one the US wants to implement).

Given how close in structure several neurotransmitters are to recreational phenethyamines, there could be some interesting side effects.

And it's hardly going to solve everything. Heroin addicts have been known to reach a point where shooting saline solution, or just inserting the needle without any injection, gives them a rush. Some people get off drugs just to take up some other addictive behaviour such as gambling, sex, religion, or drinking.

Which brings up another point - ethanol; vaccinating against that should be interesting, seeing as one's own get makes it. And there's that old standby that'll be really hard to ward against - CO2. Still remember the story Sasha told me about the grad student he enlightened regarding actions and structures, after I'd mention the study in the `50s.
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

For close to a century we have had a tool against ethanol addiction, used in the treatment of diehard alcoholics, called Antabuse. It's actually an industrial chemical used in the vulcanization of rubber. It was observed long ago that rubber plant workers who handled this compound, and who after work had a drink, became violently ill. As I recall even the ethanol in after-shave or cologner, applied topically, is sufficient to induce serious physiological reactions.

Antabuse alters the metabolism. So mechanistically, it is not at all similar to the proposed vaccines.

I did not and will not argue the merits of the vaccines, or the idea of the vaccines. I am sure they will have their proponents and their detractors. I am sure there will be interesting and knotty issues having to do with state powers, medical-professional ethics, etc. As things stand I don't think as matters stand that the government in USA can compel anyone to take a vaccine against their will. I just discussed the matter with an EU lawyer, and he tells me that he things European governments would have a far easier time in compelling such vaccination at least in criminal cases. Back in the US I think it is more likely to be coercive than complusory, like, if you flunk a piss test, it's take the vaccine "voluntarily" or face the dire consequences of refusal.

Anyway until this is approved by FDA and on the market, this is all speculative. Isn't it?

As to side effects that is what Phase Three is supposed to sort out.

As for 6 months vs. permament, well, if the state can coerce or compel one to get one shot they can certainly coerce or compel one to come back to get another shot at regular intervals like six months, or face the same music they would have faced if they had refused the first. Little difference from things like home confinement with an electronic anklet that alarms the cops if you leave home. Go off the vaccine and you become a fugitive to be hunted down by the Federal Marshalls Service, I mean no one wants Tommie Lee Jones on their case do they?

And it hardly requires a stretch of the imagination to consider that longer acting or even permenent caccines of this sort will be available in future and may be already in development now.

[Edited on 22-6-2007 by Sauron]
franklyn
International Hazard

Posts: 2586
Registered: 30-5-2006
Location: Da Big Apple
Member Is Offline

 Quote: Originally posted by not_important Given how close in structure several neurotransmitters are to recreational phenethyamines, there could be some interesting side effects.

Much as the permanent visual field psychotropic effects from heavy LSD use.

I love pharmaceutical companies always quick to cash in on any demonstrable
effect. First they market " hair growth " products that makes you flacid , then
they follow up with " male enhancement " products , so they got you coming
and going

.
Pyridinium
National Hazard

Posts: 258
Registered: 18-5-2005
Location: USA
Member Is Offline

Mood: cupric

 Quote: Originally posted by not_important Don't get vaccinated and your name goes on the Do Not Hire list (like the one the US wants to implement).

Good point. That's always the way, isn't it. Instead of directly putting a gun to your head, they just make you An Offer You Can't Refuse.

Much as I would like to see the drug abuse problem of society "disappear", I do see the potential for another kind of abuse with this vaccine.

The rest of us "little guys" have to worry about liability if someone sets foot on our property and hurts himself, yet the big companies can inject poorly-tested compounds directly into someone's veins and still have no liability worries! Something is not right with that.
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

That's a load of horseshit. I see absolutely no reason to conclude that the extremely lengthy and extraordinarily costly, insanely costly, US FDA testing and approval process should be characterized as "poorly testing" anything. Failures of this process are few and far between and themselves usually result in serious improvements in the process. How long ago was the thalidomide debacle? Damned near fifty years, that's how long, and FYI thalidomide was not approved in the US. It was marketed elsewhere.

The thalidomide case does highlight the lengths to which US FDA will go to protect consumers. Thalidomide as it was sold was a racemate and it turns out that one one of the enantiomers was teratogenic. This phenomenon has been observed with other racemates and now FDA has mandated that NO racemic pharmaceutical compounds will be permitted. That is, ALL pharmaceuticals MUST be resolved and the enantiomers or diastereomers tested seperately. The efficacious and nonharmful epimer ONLY will be allowed to be sold.

To say the least this has advanced the pharm industry's interest in preparative chiral HPLC by leaps and bounds...
sparkgap
International Hazard

Posts: 1191
Registered: 16-1-2005
Location: not where you think
Member Is Offline

Mood: equilibrated

"Thalidomide as it was sold was a racemate and it turns out that one one of the enantiomers was teratogenic."

Sure, but you do know that thalidomide inverts inside the body, so no escaping the teratogenic effect there even if Chemie Grunenthal took the trouble of resolving. That possibility also exists with the thalidomide congeners currently being used to treat autoimmune diseases, and not far off with other drugs methinks. Hence, I find

"...NO racemic pharmaceutical compounds will be permitted."

to be rather unreasonable. Dilevalol as an example springs to mind.

As for FDA poorly testing drugs, I remember the examples of benoxaprofen, bromfenac, trovafloxacin and mibefradil.

sparky (~_~)

"What's UTFSE? I keep hearing about it, but I can't be arsed to search for the answer..."
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

You can always point to isolated instances where unexpected or underanticipated side effects turned up in the general population. My point is that these instances are few and far between, so the characterization "pporly tested" is innacurate and unfair.

Even in the cases you mention, the question needs to be asked: was the testing methoology fundamentally sound? Was prudent professional judgement applies, or was their negligence or incompetence? Remove the benefit of your 20/20 hindsight and put yourself in the shoes of those who were the architects of those testing programs.

I was not making a case for enantiomerically pure thalidomide. And few chiral pharmaceuticals are going to racemize in vivo.

I am not a particular fan of the US FDA, but I do regard the comments of brother pyridinium as overly harsh and inaccurate.
EllisDTripp
Harmless

Posts: 7
Registered: 30-5-2006
Member Is Offline

So assuming that the opiate vaccine works as advertised, rendering one immune to the effects of opiates for the rest of your life, what happens when you are injured in a car crash or something like that, and need to be given morphine or demerol in the ER? If you get no pain relief, can you then sue the vaccine manufacturer for pain and suffering? Emotional Distress?
Ozone
International Hazard

Posts: 1034
Registered: 28-7-2005
Location: Good Olde USA
Member Is Offline

Mood: Integrated

Neat science, but-

How long, do you suppose, will it be before you are required to have updated "vaccinations" prior to enrollment in University (already mandatory for MMR, tetanus, meningitis, etc.)? How long after that until children are given something like this along with the required MMR/WC?

Being stripped of free will is a scary thing...which is why most fear prison.

O3

-Anyone who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
--Albert Einstein
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

Why start at university level? Drug abuse is endemic (or worse) at junior high school age levels, and there the free will issue does not apply, the choice is the parents' not the child's. I suspect that few parents would balk as such a vaccination, one that renders their child incapable of getting stoned, any more than they object to other immunizations against childhood diseases.

Maybe the Medellin Cartel will buy a controlling interest in Xenova and quietly scuttle the vaccine project, who knows?

@EllisDTripp, the vaccine for heroin is specific for heoin. It does not destroy other opiates, opioids, or related analgesics. Your concern is farfetched.

In general, while I am sure there are legitimate questions to be asked about this proposed vaccine, most of the ones raised so far in this thread are either spurious or alarmist.

Speculating about imaginary side effects that putatively won't be caught in FDA trials, is one of the most telling speculations. Precisely what quality controls does the illicit drug maker have in place? NONE. They just peddle whatever filth they like, contaminated with God knows what, adulterated with God knows what at multiple distribution levels, and the hapless user then consumes - what?

Do we need to remind anyone here of what happened with the infamous super-demerol pandemic? How many people afflicted with permamnent irreversible acute Parkinson's? Not a few dead. All because a polyabusing drug cook was incompetent, and didn't give a damn.

THAT is the sort of public health threat I prefer to worry about and NOT failures by the FDA and pharm industry.

[Edited on 25-6-2007 by Sauron]
Twospoons
International Hazard

Posts: 720
Registered: 26-7-2004
Location: Middle Earth
Member Is Offline

Mood: Full of B12 - YIPPEE!

Isn't priming the immune system against a chemical essentially the same as inducing an allergy? If some poor bastard becomes allergic to nicotine, they are going to end up in hospital every time some passerby lights up a cigarette. Like the nut-allergic kids who can't even be in the same room as a peanut butter sandwich.
This is something that could easily go horribly wrong.

The wife thinks I\'m with the mistress, the mistress thinks I\'m with the wife - so I can go to my workshop and get a few things done!
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

The short answer is NO, this vaccine does not create an allergy. If it did it would never have made it through Phase One FDA.
Polverone
Now celebrating 12 years of madness

Posts: 3003
Registered: 19-5-2002
Location: The Sunny Pacific Northwest
Member Is Offline

If this vaccine is so specific that it will trigger a response against diacetylated morphine but not morphine itself, it seems that there will be an opportunity for enterprising drug suppliers to offer products just different enough to avoid the immune system response. Or the kids can just go to town with prescription drugs -- I believe they're already the second most common way to get buzzed, apart from cannabis. Finally, I can imagine that many parents would balk at this additional vaccination if it's not cheap enough -- just look at the people who don't want to pay for HPV vaccination.

PGP Key and corresponding e-mail
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006
Member Is Offline

Mood: metastable

The notion that this would seriously be institutes as a quasimandatory requisite for scholastic admissions is IMO farfetched. In particular as long as this is a twice a year thing, it's clumsy and costly. If and when it becomes a permanent one time event, maybe that will alter the equation.

I think it's much more likely to be employed on drug offenders as an alternative to incarceration, or an alternative or adjunct to rehab, both of which are very costly and neither of which seems to work very well. Totally different set of economics, and other factors, than in the (IMO unlikely) pre-emptive approach on the general population, be it students, workforce, whatever.

Incidentally the military are into this as a vaccination against OPAs.

And sure, abusers will find alternatives, inevitably. However, this will certainly screw the purveyors of the two major hard drugs, heroin and cocaine. Those entire underground economies are based on the raw materials being naturally occuring alkaloids.
MagicJigPipe
International Hazard

Posts: 1547
Registered: 19-9-2007
Location: USA
Member Is Offline

Mood: Suspicious

Whenever something is in demand whether it is illegal or not, someone will find a way to meet that demand. Governments do have somewhat of an obligation to curtail drug abuse (most of the burden should lie on the individual drug user IMO), however, I believe the stance that the US Govt. takes on drugs and their abuse is part of the reason the drug trade is so "dirty". Insane laws are forcing small time dealers to create lower quality product (or mix in 99% crap) so the profit margin is enough to outweigh the risk of selling it.

If only there was a perfect system that would reduce drug abuse and at the same time make drugs more pure (at least without harmful impurities) for the people that are inevitabley going to take them anyway. Nothing's perfect though.

No drug or vaccine should EVER be forced on someone by any means UNLESS not doing so poses an IMINENT danger to others (eg a vaccine for a deadly virus) IMO. Whether it's the US or someone else we all know that SOMEONE will implement this EVENTUALLY. I just feel bad that my kids will be living in such a society.

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
JohnWW
International Hazard

Posts: 2849
Registered: 27-7-2004
Location: New Zealand
Member Is Offline

Oh of course. If drugs were legal, it would destroy the lucrative black-market for them that is exploited by the Mafia (which buys its cocaine and heroin from the CIA, which smuggles the stuff into the U$A to finance U$ Secret Government off-budget "black" projects) and other criminal gangs, and thereby make them less available, not more available. The U\$ Government would not, of course, want to destroy its source of funding of "black" projects by legalizing the stuff.
Sauron
International Hazard

Posts: 5358
Registered: 22-12-2006