Swedish Researchers Say New Drug For Alcohol Addiction One Step Closer To Reality

Swedish Researchers Say New Drug For Alcohol Addiction One Step Closer To Reality

By Angela Laguipo, Tech Times | October 19, 2015

alcohol-drinking

Swedish researchers are one step closer to developing a drug that can help curb alcoholism. They announced on Wednesday that they found a more efficient way to reduce alcohol cravings by normalizing dopamine levels in the brain.

In the study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, the findings were based on two studies: one conducted on people and the other one on laboratory mice. Human trials exhibited that the drug contributed to reduced alcohol cravings while the trial on mice showed that the drug works by normalizing dopamine levels.

The compound, OSU6162, a dopamine stabilizer, can reduce the craving of dependent alcoholics and can actually target the dopamine levels by tweaking the reward center of the rats’ brain, which consumed alcohol for some time.

“The results of our studies are promising, but there is still a long way to go before we have a marketable drug,” Pia Steensland, associate professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of Karolinska Institutet, and co-author of both studies said.

“We therefore think that OSU6162 can reduce the alcohol craving in dependent people by returning the down-regulated levels of dopamine in their brain reward system to normal,” added Steensland.

What is the link between alcohol dependence and dopamine levels? Since alcohol is a very small molecule compared to large molecules like opiates, it interacts with many neurotransmitters in the brain.

While studies show that alcohol does not directly increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, it somewhat affects the Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and endorphin system. Some neurons in the GABA system are extended to the reward pathway in the brain and when alcohol alters the system, the neurons would release dopamine in the said pathway.

However, drinking too much alcohol may desensitize the reward system and may produce lesser dopamine than usual. This will lead to a feeling of abnormality and imbalance in his well-being that will make him drink more than the usual.

Thus, all substances and things that give people a sense of pleasure from food to alcohol, causes the release of dopamine in the reward pathway. When OSU6162 stabilizes dopamine levels, craving for alcohol or other pleasurable things would normalize.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2013, around 24.6 percent of Americans ages 18 years old or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking while 6.8 percent said they had heavy drinking in the past month.

Around 16.6 million adults who are 18 years old or older had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2013 and there are about 88,000 people who die from alcohol-related causes each year.

Retrieved from: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/96117/20151019/swedish-researchers-say-new-drug-for-alcohol-addiction-one-step-closer-to-reality.htm

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