Experimental Alcohol Addiction Vaccine | RxEconsult Team | RxEconsult

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Experimental Alcohol Addiction Vaccine Category: Addiction by - September 6, 2012 | Views: 25833 | Likes: 0 | Comment: 2  

Alcohol Vaccine


Thanks to vaccines, dozens of once-fatal diseases have all but disappeared from the industrialized world. From polio to chicken pox, a simple shot is all it takes to provide immunity to a potentially devastating condition – and if researchers in Chile are successful, a simple shot is all it will take to end one of the most devastating conditions of all: alcoholism.

Kicking the Habit – For Good

Even as the medical field has seen advances that were once thought impossible over the last 100 years, when it comes to alcohol addiction rehab, various programs seem to have been the only proven successful methods for ending dependence. Even then, after whatever program is completed, the cravings for alcohol could continue for the rest of the addict’s life, making sobriety a challenging and precarious path for even the most committed patient.

However, thanks to a discovery by researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the face of alcohol rehabilitation could change drastically. Researchers there found a connection between alcoholism and the gene CYP2E1 – essentially, lab specimens who had this genetic trait were more likely to be alcoholics. Using this information, researchers hypothesize that there is a molecular pathway to the brain that leads to alcoholism, one that can be impeded or even stopped with the right therapy.

The researchers in Chile, in a private lab, have taken this knowledge and begun developing a vaccine that helps alcoholics reduce their cravings, and also reduces the side effects of alcohol withdrawal. Essentially, the vaccine will affect the enzymes that break down alcohol in the system. It will break down the primary enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase, which processes alcohol and also create the feeling of a hangover after just the first drink or two, therefore decreasing the desire to drink.

The treatment, which is projected to be a monthly shot, will work much like the popular nicotine patches used by those who want to quit smoking, only it will target the liver cells. The treatments is believed to block about 95 percent of the cravings for alcohol, as well as the anxiety, accelerated heart rate and nausea that often come with alcohol withdrawal.

Bringing the Drug to the People

Although the treatment looks promising, it is still a long way from being released to the public. Currently, the vaccine has only been tested on lab rats. The early tests have been successful, showing about a 50 percent reduction in alcoholism. However, researchers would like to make the drug at least 90 to 95 percent effective.

The lab expects to begin performing human trials of the drug in 2013, but it will still take up to several years of testing and going through the approval process before the drug is available to patients. Of course, that is reliant on the results in human trials being similar to those in the lab specimens.

Current Options

The pending alcoholism vaccine should not be confused with the current drug therapy used in some patients. The drug naltrexone is currently used in some patients, along with counseling, to help them curb their heavy drinking. Naltrexone, however, is not 100 percent effective in everyone, and has been reported to have some negative side effects. It also only curbs some of the desire to drink – patients receiving the highest doses of the drug report around a 25 percent decrease in drinking days. The proposed vaccine, on the other hand, will almost completely eliminate the desire to drink.

Until the alcoholism vaccine is available, though, those facing addiction do have several traditional options for beating their disease. Traditional rehab, such as that highlighted on StopAddiction, combines medical and therapeutic approaches to help patients get sober. Naltrexone is an option, as well as twelve step and other types of recovery programs.

As the medical community makes strides in researching the causes of alcoholism, we are sure to see more advances in ideas for treating the disease. Until then, if you or someone else is struggling with addiction, seek help from a qualified professional to learn strategies you can use today for living a healthy, substance free life.


About the Author

Scott McIntosh is a researcher specializing in addiction treatment with StopAddiction. He has worked as a counselor and administrator in several substance abuse rehabilitation centers, and helped hundreds of people overcome their alcohol dependency through alcohol addiction rehab.


This article is for information only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of RxEconsult, LLC.

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