Brain and Body

Researchers May Have Discovered a World-First New Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

April 15, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

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“An internationally-significant breakthrough.”

In what researchers are calling an “internationally-significant breakthrough,” a team of neuroscientists in Australia, led by Queensland University of Technology, say they may have discovered a world-first new treatment for alcohol addiction — and conveniently, it’s in the form of a drug that is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the media release, alcohol addiction causes nearly 3.8 percent of deaths worldwide, and the current treatment options are shaky at best.

"Drugs currently used for AUDs (alcohol use disorders) — acamprosate, naltrexone and disulfiram — have limited success — so this is a ground-breaking development with enormous potential," said Professor Selena Bartlett from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.

SEE ALSO: New Research Shows That Just the Smell of Alcohol Is Enough to Break Down Willpower

Now, based on new research, the scientists are confident about a drug called pindolol, which is an FDA-approved beta blocker used to treat high blood pressure and angina. Beta blockers are a class of drugs that prevent the stimulation of the receptors in the body that are responsible for increased cardiac action — thus controlling heart rhythm and reducing blood pressure.

"In an internationally-significant breakthrough, our study showed pindolol was able to reduce ethanol/alcohol consumption, particularly in relation to binge drinking, a key behaviour observed in human alcohol dependence,” Bartlett said.

The data collected in the study, which is published in the journal Addiction Biology, revealed that pindolol diminishes alcohol intake in animal models of binge-alcohol consumption.

According to researcher Omkar Patkar, this preclinical study is the first step towards “fast tracking” pindolol into human clinical studies, eventually creating the potential to use the drug as treatment for AUDs.

"More research is required but we believe the results from our study show that pindolol represents a novel, safe and ready to test treatment therapy option for managing alcohol dependence in humans,” Patkar said in the release.

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