Immunotherapies for Opioids to Prevent Relapse and Overdose


The Research Need

Relapse and death from drug overdose are major challenges for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Communities urgently need additional strategies for treating opioid addiction and preventing overdose, such as vaccines that reduce the euphoric effects of opioids and offer protection from overdose. Currently, there are no licensed vaccines for the treatment of substance use disorders.

About the Program

Through the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, NIH has established a coordinated, multidisciplinary consortium to develop anti-opioid vaccines and monoclonal antibodies and test their safety and efficacy in clinical trials. The goal is to have immunotherapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for opioid use disorder and overdose.

Program Details

To date, through the NIH HEAL Initiative, NIH has awarded 12 grants and contracts for new research projects. These awards total almost $33.3 million. The consortium supported by this funding will take advantage of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) vaccine development programs and resources as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) expertise in opioid biology and the management of opioid use disorder.

  • Boston Children’s Hospital – Massachusetts
  • Butler University – Rhode Island
  • Duke University – North Carolina
  • Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute – Minnesota
  • Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine – Maryland
  • Scripps Research Institute – Florida
  • Tulane University – Louisiana
  • University of Chicago – Illinois
  • University of Montana – Montana
  • University of New Mexico Health Science Center – New Mexico
  • University of Texas Medical Branch – Texas

Funded Projects

Adjuvanted Opioid Vaccine for Treating Fentanyl Use Disorder to Reduce Poisoning and Fatal Overdose
Sep 29, 2020
Development of Vaccines for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder
Sep 29, 2020