DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The University of Houston announced a potential breakthrough vaccine for fentanyl. The vaccine stops fentanyl from getting into the brain, eliminating any effects from the drug.

The lead researcher in this study says the vaccine could protect people who are inadvertently exposed to fentanyl but designed it for people who are quitting addiction. Local community leaders here say the vaccine’s potential creates a new future here in Dayton.

“We have the possibility to block it the same way naloxone works and save lives. It thrills me to hear this,” said ADAMHS Executive Director Helen Jones-Kelley.

A fentanyl vaccine is currently being studied that would prevent the drug from entering a person’s brain, ultimately eliminating any euphoric or lethal effects. If the vaccine is a success, Jones-Kelley believes it could change the course of the Miami Valley.

“If you’re not getting high with fentanyl, for a lot of folks, it’ll be like why bother, it’s such a sidious drug and doesn’t take much to take someone’s life,” said Jones-Kelley.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office says nearly every sample of street drug they obtain is mixed with fentanyl. And sometimes, users aren’t aware of the mixture’s ingredients.

“Through the crime lab, we’ll find a powder sample that contains 10 different substances,” said Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger. “There’s no abuse potential to the vaccine, you’re just creating a mechanism in the body to attack the fentanyl chemical.”

The coroner’s office says the treatment and recovery phase is the most difficult stage for users but this vaccine has the possibility to change the course of many lives in Dayton.

“We do see too many deaths from overdoses, they’re constant and regular,” said Dr. Harshbarger. “Other blockers exist but if this vaccine has promise and effective to get people through addiction treatment phases to recovery would be great.”

University of Houston is still in its early stages. They still need to do toxicology studies plus get FDA approval for human trials but they’re hopeful if everything goes according to plan, the three-dose shot could be available in three to four years.

According to the Montgomery County Overdose Death dashboard, overdose deaths are down 18% compared to 2021, which ADAMHS contributes to the county agencies to work together.