Polymer-mediated delivery of vaccines to treat opioid use disorders and to reduce opioid-induced toxicity

Valeria Gradinati, Federico Baruffaldi, Santhi Abbaraju, Megan Laudenbach, Rasidul Amin, Brian Gilger, Poonam Velagaleti, Marco Pravetoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Vaccines offer a potential strategy to treat opioid use disorders (OUD) and to reduce the incidence of opioid-related overdoses. Vaccines induce opioid-specific polyclonal antibodies that selectively and effectively bind the target opioid and prevent its distribution across the blood-brain barrier. Because antibody-mediated reduction of drug distribution to the brain reduces drug-induced behavior and toxicity, vaccine efficacy depends on the quantity and quality of the antibody response. This study tested whether polymer-mediated delivery could improve vaccine efficacy against opioids as well as eliminate the need for booster injections normally required for a successful immunization. A series of novel biodegradable biocompatible thermogelling pentablock co-polymers were used to formulate a candidate vaccine against oxycodone in mice and rats. Polymer-based delivery of the anti-oxycodone vaccine was equally or more effective than administration in aluminum adjuvant in generating oxycodone-specific antibodies and in reducing oxycodone-induced effects and oxycodone distribution to the brain in mice and rats. The composition and release kinetics of the polymer formulations determined vaccine efficacy. Specifically, a formulation consisting of three simultaneous injections of the anti-oxycodone vaccine formulated in three different polymers with slow, intermediate, and fast release kinetics was more effective than an immunization regimen consisting of three sequential injections with the vaccine adsorbed on aluminum. The novel three-phased polymer vaccine formulation was effective in blocking oxycodone-induced antinociception, respiratory depression and bradycardia in rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4704-4712
Number of pages9
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jun 19 2020


  • Adjuvant
  • Antibody
  • Formulation
  • Opioid
  • Polymer
  • Vaccine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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