Quality & Science

Editorial Comment 4/20/2021: Drugs and Vaccines - Dr. Jenner Would Be Proud

by Editor-in-Chief: Dr. William Haning, MD, DFAPA, DFASAM | April 19, 2021

For some decades, Dr. Tom Kosten and associates have pursued the tantalizing possibility of a cocaine immunization, a vaccination that would result in the excretion or at least inactivation of the drug.  This was taken less-seriously than was warranted by many at the time, largely from a failure among those many to understand the underlying principle – binding of a small molecule, cocaine, with a more recognizable and larger molecule, to template a vaccine.  In the interval since his initial work, there have been many efforts to create similar immunizations, discussions of which I have sampled here.  Most of these are journalistic essays but provide a quick snapshot of the intentions, and the relative successes, for a variety of drug classes.

This was brought to mind by two associations:  Dr. Athanasiou’s reminder that April 20, or “420” is a banner for the cannabis-using community, mythologically related to 4:20 PM and the usual end of the high school day.  (There is also “710”, “OIL” upside-down and thus celebrated on July the 10th, suggesting two distinct quasi-religious sects; but I digress.)  The other was the persistent, pervasive presence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to produce effective immunizations; a loose, but not completely tangential association.  Among those immunizing efforts against drug actions, there has been exploration of approaches that would block the more toxic synthetic cannabinoids subsumed under the umbrella of “spice.”  A brief sampling of the efforts toward drug immunity follows, without rigorous academic review; and in some cases from many years past.

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ASAM Weekly Advisories:

  1. Emphatic congratulations are owed to Dr. Karen Miotto in her installation as Chair of the ASAM Publications Council.  Equally emphatic congratulations go to Senior Editor Dr. Nicholas Athanasiou on his installation as a voting member of the ASAM Publications Council.
  2. The ASAM Weekly will be on hiatus for the week of 27 April; content will not include abstracts or editorials for that week.  This is to permit staff and editors to focus on the ASAM Scientific Conference of 22-24 April, with two pre-conference courses 19 & 21 April, all online with registration still open via www://asam.org ; all 60-75 hours of CME-approved course material will remain accessible for 3 years (2024).  We will resume publication on May 05.

- Editor-in-Chief: Dr. William Haning, MD, DFAPA, DFASAM