Vaccination with oxycodone conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin subunit dimer (OXY-dKLH) may represent an effective treatment strategy for oxycodone abuse and may help reduce oxycodone overdose severity, according to results from a study published in PLoS One.

Researchers immunized male Holtzman rats with 25 μg OXY-dKLH or dKLH (controls) adsorbed to aluminum hydroxide. After administration of increasing cumulative doses of oxycodone, immunization with OXY-dKLH led to the attenuation of oxycodone-induced antinociception, as indicated by the shifting of the dose-response curve to the right [vaccination, F(1,29)=7.40 (P <.05); interaction, F(5,145)=4.41 (P <.001); oxycodone dose, F(5,145)=112.6 (P <.001)].

The administration of naloxone, commonly given to reverse opioid overdose, was effective in the treatment and control groups for quickly reversing respiratory depression. Vaccine immunogenicity and serum anti-oxycodone antibody titers were not affected by the administration of long-acting naltrexone or by the continuous infusion of morphine.

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Neither the immunogenicity nor the serum titers of anti-oxycodone antibodies were affected by the administration of long-acting naltrexone in mice immunized with a native KLH conjugate.

Although standard medications can help reduce the severity of opioid overdose, many individuals with opioid addiction or abuse find them unsatisfactory; OXY-dKLH might therefore represent a valuable alternative for “engaging more opioid addicts in treatment.”

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Raleigh MD, Peterson SJ, Laudenbach M, et al. Safety and efficacy of an oxycodone vaccine: addressing some of the unique considerations posed by opioid abuse. PLoS One. 2017;12(12):e0184876.