Skip to main content

Rats can’t get high after fentanyl vaccine. Will it work on people?

A rat eating seeds in the Central Park. | Adobe Stock

Scientists have developed a vaccine that could stop people from getting high from fentanyl, giving experts hope that the treatment could provide addicts a clearer path to recovery.

An experimental vaccine that prevents the powerful opioid from entering the brain by producing “anti-fentanyl antibodies” has found success in early studies conducted on rats, according to researchers. Scientists at the University of Houston recently published their study in the journal Pharmaceutics and they plan to start clinical trials on humans in the coming months.

“The individual will not feel the euphoric effects and can ‘get back on the wagon’ to sobriety,” said Colin Haile, the study’s lead author.

More than 350 people have died of overdoses from fentanyl this year in San Francisco, while over 71,000 people died from the drug across the country last year.

The city has struggled to provide drug users adequate treatment for years despite the issue of fatal overdoses being top of mind for many residents and city leaders.

Researchers said their new vaccine contains ingredients derived from the intestinal bacteria E. Coli, and it has shown no adverse side effects in early testing.

David Sjostedt can be reached at