Opiate and opioid drugs killed 70,000 Americans1 in 2017, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest grim note in a still growing addiction crisis and demanding a wide public health response. In May 2017, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, wrote that it was time for “all scientific hands on deck,” and highlighted the need to invest in new technologies beyond the standard toolset for reversing opioid drug overdoses and treating addiction.2
NIH has now announced new resources for research into one such alternate approach to combatting the opioid epidemic, immunotherapy.
A March 20 solicitation from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases3(NIAID), announced the division’s search for outside researchers interested in developing vaccines to protect against heroin and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, with goal of awarding multiple groups contracts, according to Kentner Singleton, PhD, program officer in the basic immunology branch of NIAID. He expects to announce the awards by August 2020. “Once we make the awards, we can facilitate collaborations between all the different groups so we can leverage the strength of one group to minimize the weakness of another group, so that we can have a cohesive consortium of investigators all working towards the same goal in unison and in parallel,” he says. “At the end of the day, the goal is to have a product that is brought into clinical trials.”