16 Dec New Antibody Engineering Could Prevent Relapse

Much of the research surrounding addiction and treatment in recent years has been focused on developing medications to treat withdrawals and to reduce cravings for those in early recovery. Some headway has been made in the area of opioids, but most other types of addiction have no treatment medication available yet. The Methamphetamine epidemic that is raging in many parts of the country is causing a large percentage of new cases of addiction and researchers are looking for new ways to treat them. New studies on the effectiveness of specialized antibodies being used to block absorption of the drug has been very promising and will hopefully be used to make a difference in Meth recovery soon. An article published in the LA Times last month sums up the research.

How it Works

Our cells are genetically coded to produce certain antibodies that protect us against various viruses and other intruders. When we are infected with a virus, our cells develop new antibodies to eradicate it and to protect us from it in the future. Antibody research in addiction treatment focuses on setting up an immune defense within an addict’s body against their drug of choice. Current advances have been made mostly with Meth immunity. Scientists have found that by inserting a dismembered virus that has been equipped with specialized genes into the blood, it is able to enter the cells, and prompt them to produce antibodies that are programmed to isolate meth. The antibodies encapsulate the meth, preventing it from being absorbed by receptors in the brain. Eventually the meth-laden antibodies are filtered out of the blood and expelled.

Possible Benefits

Basically all drugs work in the same way. They stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain, causing them to over-produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Soon a dependence on the higher levels of chemicals is formed and addiction sets in. Taking more drugs satisfies the brain’s distress signals asking for more stimulation.These distress signals are the withdrawal symptoms that addicts feel when they stop taking drugs. If they can wait out the panic of withdrawal, eventually the dependence will lessen and the symptoms will decrease in intensity until they’re gone.

By setting up an immunity to the drug of choice through antibody engineering, the addict will be unable to find any satisfaction or relief from using and will be unable to supply the brain with its demanded substance. This will prevent a relapse from occurring, even if the addict slips and uses during recovery. The addict will be able to stay clean, seek additional help, and continue on in recovery without becoming completely derailed.

Expanding Uses

Up to this point, most addiction medications have centered around easing withdrawal symptoms. The antibody method currently being researched takes a whole new approach, by rendering a drug completely ineffective. Meth has been the trial drug so far, but the method could be applied to other drugs as well, such as cocaine and tobacco. If the clinical trials for the medication go well, addiction treatment professionals could have another valuable tool at their disposal in the very near future.

Betsy Firth is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She graduated from Purdue University. She began her career in residential treatment in 1984. Betsy’s professional passion is in assisting others to heal from trauma or disruptions in attachment. She is certified in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) for increasing ability in emotion regulation and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for resolution of traumatic memories. She has found great satisfaction utilizing these skills and abilities in helping those who suffer from the disease of addiction.

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