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Could a vaccine be part of the solution to the fentanyl problem?

Deaths from drug overdoses rose in the U.S. between 2019 and 2021, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2021, the agency reports there were more than 70,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl in this country.

Dr. Colin Haile is a research associate professor at the University of Houston and he’s working on a vaccine against fentanyl. So instead of getting the body to produce antibodies against a virus, it’d produce antibodies against a chemical, in this case, fentanyl.

He says it’s a similar approach to vaccines he and others have worked on in the past to combat cocaine and methamphetamine. He says his current effort on the fentanyl vaccine is probably 12-18 months away from being ready for human clinical trials.

Dr. Haile joined The Show to talk more about how this new vaccine works.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.