In a major breakthrough technology, scientists have developed a novel technology that may treat alcoholism by reducing alcohol intake, and also reduce depression without inducing seizures.
The previous study has revealed that alcoholism has risen sharply in the 2000s, to the point that one in eight people meets the criteria as an alcoholic.
According to the researchers, depression affects many of the 140 million people worldwide struggling with alcohol use disorders. Only a few drugs are approved for treating the disorder. The goal of these medications is to reduce alcohol cravings, but they do not treat psychiatric disorders.
The Purdue University research team focused on a G protein-coupled receptor, called the delta opioid receptor, which is a novel drug target that is different from the receptor in the body that binds prescription opioids. They developed drugs that bind to this new target and selectively activate a particular protein-signaling cascade of this receptor.
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“We can then use this unique property of the drug to provide a therapeutic effect and avoid a side effect,” said Richard van Rijn, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, who led the research team. “Current types of delta opioids have been failing in clinical trials because, unlike ours, they activate multiple cascades, including those associated with increased side effects like seizures.”
The new drug has proven effective in preclinical tests in reducing alcohol use and has pharmacological properties that should enable it to reduce depression without inducing seizures.
“Our lab’s research is focused on providing new hope for patients dealing with neurological disorders and addictions,” van Rijn said.