Abuse of methamphetamine (METH) exacts significant medical and social costs in the US and worldwide;yet, there are no medications approved for the treatment of METH addiction. Immunization of addicted patients with a METH-conjugate vaccine (MCV) is a promising new strategy that could stimulate a patient's own immune system to generate long acting, protective anti-METH antibodies. These antibodies would block or slow the rate at which METH enters the brain, shield the user from METH's rewarding and toxic effects, and thereby reduce the medical consequences of relapse to METH use during rehabilitation therapy. The purpose of the proposed work is to scale-up the manufacturing process to produce an MCV, test the MCV in toxicology studies to show its safety, and complete plans for a first in human clinical trial. The candidate MCV was developed and optimized at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) where extensive preclinical animal testing demonstrated both safety and efficacy. Vaccines for treating nicotine and cocaine addiction have already been tested in humans, with positive outcomes for those patients making large quantities of anti-drug antibodies. This innovative new MCV, in combination with a state of the art adjuvant, is expected to stimulate significantly higher antibody titers with very high affinity for METH. The important characteristics of this MCV include a rigorously tested and optimized METH hapten chemical structure, refined chemistry for the conjugation of METH hapten to an immunostimulatory carrier protein, and a next generation adjuvant that rapidly generates high titers of anti- METH antibodies. Together, the hapten, carrier protein and adjuvant are essential parameters that determine the success of a vaccine;this MCV fulfills them all. The ultimate goal of this project is to submit a successful investigational new drug application (IND) to the FDA. To reach this goal, the team from InterveXion Therapeutics and UAMS, along with several highly qualified vendors, will accomplish four specific aims. First, the manufacturing platform will be scaled-up and data will be generated to show that the production system is reliable and the MCV is stable during storage. Once proven, a batch of MCV suitable for use in humans will be produced. Second, toxicology studies in rats will provide support for the expected safe administration of MCV with adjuvant to humans. Third, a protocol and all supporting documents for the first clinical trial wil be developed to show the safety and tolerability of the MCV in human subjects. Finally, the IND package will be written, assembled, and submitted to the FDA. At the conclusion of the proposed work, this team will be poised to initiate the first clinical trial for an active METH vaccine.

Public Health Relevance

Our team has developed a new vaccine for treating the serious medical consequences of methamphetamine (METH) addiction that has the potential to reduce METH's devastating behavioral and societal effects. This innovative vaccine could provide an essential missing therapeutic component to reduce METH's rewarding effects and thereby prevent relapse to METH use for patients in addiction treatment programs. This project will manufacture the METH vaccine and perform all necessary testing in preparation for a first human clinical trial.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDA1)
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Chiang, Nora
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Intervexion Therapeutics, LLC
Little Rock
United States
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Stevens, Misty W; Gunnell, Melinda G; Tawney, Rachel et al. (2016) Optimization of a methamphetamine conjugate vaccine for antibody production in mice. Int Immunopharmacol 35:137-141