Methamphetamine vaccine shows promise


November 8, 2012

Methamphetamine addicts may one day be able to receive a vaccine, that keeps them from getting a "meth high" (Photo: Shutterstock)

Methamphetamine addicts may one day be able to receive a vaccine, that keeps them from getting a "meth high" (Photo: Shutterstock)

Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive and thus commonly-used street drugs – according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there are currently nearly 25 million meth addicts worldwide. Help may be on the way, however. Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have had success in using a methamphetamine vaccine to block the effects on meth on lab rats.

The vaccine works by allowing the body’s immune system to attack methamphetamine molecules in the bloodstream, keeping them from entering the nervous system. This keeps the meth from affecting the user’s brain, and thus removes the incentive for using the drug.

Ordinarily, meth molecules are too small to evoke an antibody response from the body. The vaccine, known as M6, gets around this by linking a meth-related chemical to a larger carrier molecule that does cause an antibody response. Once the antibodies are in the bloodstream, they attack both the carrier molecules and the actual meth molecules.

In tests on rats, M6 blocked two of the typical effects of the drug – loss of the ability to regulate body temperature, and in increase in physical activity. In another ongoing Scripps study, meth-targeting antibodies were grown in cultured cells in a lab, then injected into rats in a concentrated dose. This approach also blocked the effects of the drug.

More animal trials are planned for now, with the possibility of human trials occurring in the future.

Source: The Scripps Research Institute

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

This is amazingly good news for the entire world! Imagine a world, finally free of substance addiction. I want to be the first to heartily applaud the scientists behind this innovation.


Another smart thing to do would be to cut the police out of the equation,and treat this as strictly a medical matter. Keeping drugs illegal only preserves the obscene profits of the criminal cartels,with it's associated violence-addicts are going to keep using drugs whether they are legal or not. When even judges and police agree that prohibition is bad,it is an eye-opener:


If we really wanted to solve the meth problem, all we would have to do is outlaw factories making pseudo-ephedrine - the ingredient used to make cheap cold symptom products (Sudafed). It is only produced in half a dozen factories around the world. Get rid of the factories - problem solved. You cannot make meth without it, and it is too complex to make in a back alley operation. If we really had a "war on drugs", this would have been done long ago. There are alternative cold symptom drugs already (Sudafed PE). Apparently there is more money to be made with this fake war.


Fascinating concept, and I certainly hope it works. But I imagine that the additive personality weaned from meth thanks to this bona fide advance will only find something else to become addicted to.

Bob Fately

I strongly agree with michael_dowling (well said that man!).

A very high percentage of crime, especially muggings, robbery, and burglary, are committed by drug addicts in order to gain money for their drugs. Preventing these crimes, catching and prosecuting these people means huge drains on the public purse, in terms of increased security, higher insurance premiums, the cost of policing and incarceration, and the 'fear factor' (ie fear of being mugged, etc). Then there is the cost of treating the effects of drug use, such as treating infections, etc, caused by unsafe and unhygienic ways of taking the drugs, as well as the effects of the adulterants that the criminal drug dealers use to 'cut' the drugs with (and, ironically, the death rate that soars when unexpectedly relatively 'pure' drugs hit the streets). The 'war on drugs' was lost decades ago.

A vaccine, used with the user's consent, and as part of a holistic treatment package could be very useful. If used without consent, or if the user is not in a fit frame of mind to come off drugs, would be entirely counter-productive, as the user would simply find alternative, possibly more damaging ways to meet his or her 'need'- most addicts may be addicted primarily to one substance, however, addictive personalities will always need to find some kind of 'fix' or other, without the right combination of support and willpower.


I didn't know that methamphetamine is a virus. How can a vaccine be used against a non-viral affliction? A vaccination would also imply that after initial inocculation a person could no longer be addicted to the substance. Perhaps a more appropriate term to use is immuno-stimulator or immuno-enhancer.


Sounds like this would be similar to giving someone narcan for an opiate based OD. Problem is, no matter what you do, until the person taking the drugs WANTS to never use it, this is just a temporary fix, but, would be useful in preventing someone from possibly dying. I've seen several people come back from the dead by hitting them up with a load of narcan, and they have to be monitored a while, because after what few brain cells they have left, figures out that you just took away their high, they get just a tad bit agitated that the money they spent, has just been wasted.

Rusty Harris

SIGH.........Yet again, the Pharmaco Industry shows it's fundamental misunderstanding of Illegal Drugs and Drug Use (not to mention, what they are describing is basically a 'dirty shot', I would NOT want to feel the effects of this drug making my immune system 'react' to the's a STOPPRESS....all a meth addict needs to be 'normal' is a decent sleep....amphetamine removal drug TOTALLY unnecessary) Needless to say, this drug makes EXACTLY the same assumptions and mistakes that Narcan makes......I won't go into the myriad of reasons as to why this won't work, but I don't have have time to write a 10000+ word comment..... (it also amazes me that millions of dollars worth of funding has been released to this mob and they don't even show a basic understanding of Drug Use/Abuse)

Vincent Najger
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