A fascinating new drug called CSX-1004 may be the cure to the fentanyl epidemic. Scientists who have recently discovered the drug have been conducting experiments on monkeys to fully grasp the effects of the drug before they begin their human trials. If the drug is found effective, there could be a revolution in the fight against drugs.

 Understanding Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic drug that is nearly 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors, receptors responsible for pain reduction, emotions, and breathing regulation. Opioid receptors are G-coupled receptors. As we learned in AP Biology, the G protein receptor is first activated by a ligand, triggering the G protein to activate. The activated G protein causes GDP to turn into GTP. Then, the G protein binds with adenylyl cyclase, triggering ATP to become cAMP. The cAMP triggers the activation on Protein Kinase A, finally, triggering a response. In the case of fentanyl, fentanyl is the ligand. Typical responses of the drug include a feeling of euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, respiratory depression, confusion, and unconsciousness. The drug targets parts of the brain that control reward, causing users to take more of the drug. As abuse continues, the brain is no longer able to naturally produce dopamine, the neurotransmitter that binds to the opioid receptors. An addict quickly becomes reliant on drugs to give them the happiness and pain regulation that they once naturally had.

Antibody IgG1 surface

CSX-1004

CSX-1004 is an antibody that binds to fentanyl in the blood, stopping a great majority of it from reaching target receptors in the brain. As we also learned in AP Biology, antibodies are part of the humoral response and fight against infections. B-Plasma cells, which patrol the plasma, secretes antibodies. These antibodies bind to and neutralize the pathogen until a macrophage engulfs and destroys an antibody-coated pathogen. In conclusion, if CSX-1004 can bind to and neutralize fentanyl, it can potentially be killed or weakened before reaching receptors in the brain!

The Study

Scientists gathered groups of squirrel monkeys and began by giving them increasing doses of fentanyl over 28 days. They found extreme respiratory conflicts at the higher doses. They then repeated the experiment for another month. This time, they treated the monkeys with one dose of CSX-1004. They found that the dose decreased respiratory harm by 15% at all doses of fentanyl.

Timeline. Drug overdose death rates by sex, United States

The Future

If CSX-1004 is found effective and safe for humans, we could be looking at a decline in fentanyl addiction and deaths. Scientist Andrew Bennet stated that “If we can block the high produced by fentanyl, gradually people will stop using it as they realize it is not doing anything”. Fentanyl has been named the most dangerous illegal drug and was responsible for 28.8% drug related deaths in 2018. Drugs have a higher mortality rate than gunshots and automobile accidents. Does this statistic shock you? This is why drugs like CSX-1004 are so important to be in the works. CSX-1004 could be the key needed to prevent more lives lost at the hands of fentanyl.