Investigators at the University of Texas at Austin have successfully used animal models to examine a drug believed to inhibit the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, ultimately treating alcoholism.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease affecting more than 15 million Americans and many more across the globe. More specifically, it is a disease characterized by the preoccupation of alcohol. Although there exists an array of drugs to combat alcohol addiction, they are not always effective and tend to have negative side effects.
Now, the drug believed to treat alcohol addiction known as JVW-1034, was studied to work in worms and rats that exhibited symptoms of alcohol addiction. These results can eventually be illustrated in human patients with little to no side effects. However, UT-Austin researchers noted that the drug will need to go through intensive monitoring before any clinical trials on humans can occur.
JVW-1034 is unique because it works to inhibit an unconventional molecular pathway that produces no side effects. “There’s clearly a huge need for something different and better,” explains UT Austin researchers and co-author of the study, James Sahn. “That’s where our approach shines. It’s modulating a pathway that doesn’t seem to be associated with any of the other drugs that are available.”
Although JVW-1034 is promising, researchers are hoping to optimize the efficacy of the drugs chemical properties. They are planning to create a pill that can someday be able to block alcohol withdrawal symptoms and alcohol cravings in order to help affected individuals avoid relapse. Unfortunately, a creation of such pill is still unclear in its promise to treat alcoholism. This is primarily because alcoholism is a complex disease with a multitude of factors that may contribute to its pathophysiology. Regardless, a drug taken for a chronic disease can still be effective in treating stress and being beneficial for individuals affected by alcoholism.
“If we could achieve a medication that is effective for more people and doesn’t have the negative side effects that some of these drugs have, that would be game-changing,” says Stephen Martin, professor of chemistry at UT Austin and senior author.