Heroin vaccine might have saved my son’s life

Doctor K.D. Janda at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA has developed a heroin vaccine that has proven effective in animal. He is seeking funding to take the drug along the path to clinical trials in humans.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I attended a meeting of a group called the Compassionate Friends. These are people who one thing in common. They’ve lost a child. We lost our son, Patrick, in December of last year. Two and a half months that seem like a few days one minute or a year the next. The people at this meeting were kind and as the title of the organization states, compassionate. We heard stories from people who had lost their children under a variety of circumstances: cancer, car accident, suicide, addiction drug overdose. Our son fits into the latter category. Each story had its own attributes and impact on friends and family. Losing a son or daughter is about the worst thing that can happen to parents. People suffer loss in their own way. But, I noticed something unique about our group, the loss to heroin addiction group.

People who’ve lost their child (or a loved one) to a heroin overdose spend a great deal of time (every day) trying to help their loved one take control of their addiction and prevent the worst from happening. The stress pervades everything else you do. Initially, our time was spent simply trying to get our son into a rehabilitation program. Had there been a vaccine, he would have been inoculated and that would be the end of heroin for him. I’m not naive to think he might still struggle with opioids. But that would be more expensive to obtain and more difficult to prep and shoot.

We didn’t know anything about rehabs. I searched the Internet, made phone calls, can’t remember how many organizations I contacted. I can’t prove it, but I remember feeling at least one place was trying to scam us into an elaborate program even after I told the counselor we couldn’t afford it. I guess to some people it’s just a business business and must make a profit. Our insurance would pay for what we would discover to be the standard a twenty-eight-day program, so that’s what we got him into. He was put on a medication called buprenorphine also known as naloxone (Suboxone). The drug, a partial opioid agonist, acts similarly to heroin, and partially satiated his body’s desire (craving) for heroin. He only stayed at the rehab for two weeks. He was over eighteen and we couldn’t force him to stay. He found the twelve-step approach there unhelpful and chose not to participate. We were fortunate that he loved his studies at school and stayed at home for a semester where we could keep an eye on him, that is, until he transferred back to the University of Cincinnati.

While he was still home, he got into a new treatment program, a six month program, in which he took monthly injections of Vitrol, an extended release suspension of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of heroin. While on this medication heroin has no effect on the individual. The addict can shoot heroin and nothing happens. Our son complied and received the injections along with counseling, but one day simply refused to receive his monthly injection. He’d decided he missed heroin and wanted a taste of it. I became furious with him, but he got what he wanted. Eventually, we were able to talk him into going back on Suboxone. The medication comes in a sub-lingual form that dissolves under the tongue, but Patrick figured out a way to liquefy it and shoot it.

These are just a few of the things we went through with our son. Haven’t even mentioned that most of this was not covered by insurance so we were paying cash. The Vivitrol injections were over a thousand dollars each month. From the day we discovered he was hooked on heroin until the day he died we were under constant stress over whether he’d begin shooting again, drop out of school and end up in the streets living on scant food and dope, kill himself accidentally, or commit suicide. He tried the latter one night when he went out into the city and tried to buy heroin and was ripped off for $150 twice. He became so enraged that he unbuckled his seat belt and drove his car into an embankment at over 100 mph. He miraculously survived. He told us he wanted to live and from the day of the accident on he began to recover. He stayed clean for over two years until December 12, 2015 when he was found dead in his dormitory room.

A heroin vaccine could have saved his life. He would have been immune to the drug.

Heroin Vaccine

Yeah, a vaccine for heroin, and one for its synthetic cousin fentanyl. Work on these is taking place at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA by a Dr. K D Janda. Since the overdose death of our only son, Patrick, my wife and I are doing everything we can to assist Dr. Janda in his efforts. His biggest stumbling block is money. If you are inclined to find out more:

Kim D. Janda
Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Immunology
Ely R. Callaway
The Scripps Research Institute
10550 N. Torrey Pines Rd., BCC-582
La Jolla, CA 92037

Phone: (858) 784-2516
Fax: (858) 784-2595

Admin Asst.: Jon Ashley
Phone: (858) 784-2515
or (858) 784-2529
e-mail: jashley@scripps.edu

Here is how donations can be made:

1. Go to the TSRI website: http://www.scripps.edu
2. Click on the blue tab (right side) that says “Support Us”
3. Click on the pull down menu that says “Donate Now”
4. Under the “Designation” field (pull down) choose “Other”
5. Then you can type in where the money is to be spent. For example: “Janda Lab Heroin Vaccine Research”

And watch here for news on the fight against the drug epidemic attacking our nation.

Heroin and fentanyl vaccine

Dr. K D Janda at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla is working on two drug vaccines. His biggest roadblock is money

Here is how donations can be made:

1. Go to the TSRI website: www.scripps.edu
2. Click on the blue tab (right side) that says “Support Us”
3. Click on the pull down menu that says “Donate Now”
4. Under the “Designation” field (pull down) choose “Other”
5. Then you can type in where the money is to be spent. For example: “Janda Lab Heroin Vaccine Research”

Tragedy

On December 12, 2015 my son died in a drug overdose in his dorm at the University of Charleston WV pharmacy school. My wife and I intend to work with Dr. K D Janda of the Scripps Institute in San Francisco. He has been researching a vaccine for heroin for years. Here’s part of a letter my wife sent to him on December 28:

My husband and I are so sad, grief-stricken, and also angry with the whole situation with our talented, smart, capable son. I always hoped the heroin vaccine would go to clinical trials so that Patrick would take part and eliminate this scourge in his life. He so desperately wanted to be rid of its siren call.

I told Patrick that when I retire, I’d like to get back into research. I started my career as a medical research technician working with cytotoxic T lymphocytes at Washington U School of Medicine many years ago. However, I found myself leaving research and working for several laboratory product sales organizations. My husband is a retired VP of Regulatory Affairs from Celsis Laboratory Group.

So – what can we do to help get the heroin vaccine to clinical trials? I have met so many people over the last couple of weeks that had loved ones die from heroin overdoses or have been former users upon telling them about what happened to Patrick. If this is what I have encountered just in the last few weeks, what is happening all over the country? For Patrick’s legacy and to help end this scourge, how can we move this vaccine forward? We’re in a better position to help than most – my husband and I are very familiar with pharmaceutical/drug manufacturers, drug discovery, drug interactions, etc.

Thank you so much for all you do in this area of research.

How do they do it?

Later this week I will promote all of my books with a free offering. No strings, you’ll be able to go to Amazon and download them.

I don’t know how writers maintain a daily blog. I enjoy reading and writing and don’t find the time to tell people what I’m doing. I expect to finish my novel and market it. I don’t expect to blog about it and try to convince you to buy it and read it. I hope to obtain a publishing contract and expect to market the book by hiring a firm to do that for me with as little of my attention as possible. Will this happen? We will see.

Novel is still difficult

I have a couple hundred pages now. Things have changed. Some of what I thought would be difficult was easy, and some of what I thought would be easy became difficult. It’s a strange process, but I love the way a scene or narrative section will unfold before my eyes and issues will become complicated or will resolve in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Writing a memoir is certainly different. But there is a crossover with fiction in using fictional tools to shape the story. I presented the material in my memoir in a way that produced turning points and falling and escalating dramatic material.

In a memoir, one cannot combine characters or fabricate scenes or dialogue. Fiction is liberating in that sense, but also intimidating because I have anything and everything to choose from. Memoir forces you to stick to the facts as best as you can remember them. You have a guideline, a sort of outline, to carry you through.

The Novel is Killing Me

Writing this novel is breaking my back. I’m considering shelving the project and starting something else, something completely different. I have to write about something worthwhile. If fiction, the story should be well told, entertaining, and change the reader’s life (even if just a wee bit.) Lofty goal.