Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Licenses Heroin Vaccine From Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and National Institute on Drug Abuse

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 28, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Opiant”) (OTCQB:OPNT), a specialty pharmaceutical company developing pharmacological treatments for substance use, addictive and eating disorders, announced that it has obtained exclusive development and commercialization rights to the heroin vaccine invented by scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Aggressively addressing heroin addiction is part of Opiant’s mission,” said Roger Crystal, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Opiant. “In our view, this vaccine fits our plan to develop innovative treatments for this condition. The vaccine has promising preclinical data.”

Scientists at NIDA in Rockville, Maryland, and at WRAIR in Silver Spring, Maryland, developed a vaccine candidate that induces antibodies that then bind to heroin in the bloodstream, thereby preventing the drug from crossing the blood-brain barrier and blocking the euphoria and addictive effects. Because heroin is too small a molecule to induce antibodies on its own, the researchers worked closely with organic chemists to join the heroin analog to a carrier protein to improve its immune-inducing effect.

The preclinical research was funded by NIDA. WRAIR also leveraged its expertise in novel adjuvants research to increase the immune response of the vaccine. If further pre-clinical testing is successful, Opiant plans to work with researchers at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at WRAIR to eventually combine the heroin vaccine with their HIV vaccine candidate.

“This innovative dual-vaccine model would concurrently address the entwined epidemics of heroin abuse and HIV, and could provide considerable public health benefit,” said Gary Matyas, Ph.D., the WRAIR principal investigator.

“With the heroin epidemic reaching astonishing levels, we are driven at Opiant to develop new treatments for this addiction,” said Dr. Crystal. “We look forward to completing the preclinical work conducted by WRAIR and advancing into the clinic. Whilst our development of NARCAN® Nasal Spray to reverse opioid overdose has been a significant effort to address the unfortunate consequences of heroin addiction, we see the vaccine as having potential in addressing the disease itself.”

About Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a specialty pharmaceutical company developing pharmacological treatments for substance use, addictive and eating disorders. Over 45 million people in the U.S. have one of these disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), describes these disorders as chronic relapsing brain diseases which burden society at both the individual and community levels. With its innovative opioid antagonist nasal delivery technology, Opiant is positioned to become a leader in these treatment markets. Its first product, NARCAN® Nasal Spray, is marketed in the U.S. by the company’s partner, Adapt Pharma Limited. Currently, Opiant is developing opioid antagonists for the treatment of substance use, addictive and eating disorders, with a near term focus on eating disorders and cocaine use disorder. For more information please visit: www.opiant.com.

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Source:Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc.