Stockholm, Oct 15 (IANS) Swedish researchers said on Wednesday they had taken steps towards developing a more efficient drug to fight alcoholism by tweaking the brain’s reward system.
A dopamine stabilizer reduces alcohol cravings in humans and normalizes the reward system in rats’ brains, according to two separate studies carried out by scholars at Karolinska Institutet.
“The socioeconomic costs of alcohol are huge, not to mention the human suffering. It is inspiring to continue working,” Pia Steensland, an associate professor at the university, said in a statement.
“The results of our studies are promising, but there is still a long way to go before we have a marketable drug,” Xinhua quoted her as saying.
Alcohol triggers the human brain to release more dopamine and create a euphoric sensation, although the pleasant effects wear off over time.
The study on humans showed that alcohol-dependent patients who had taken the dopamine stabilizer showed less of a desire to continue drinking after one glass of beer.
“Those with the poorest impulse control, that is those thought to be most at risk of relapse after a period of abstinence, were those who responded best,” Steensland said.
The other study showed that the substance could regulate the dopamine levels in rats who had consumed alcohol, suggesting that it might help stabilize the brain’s reward system in alcoholic patients.