Scientists from the Oregon Health & Science University and other institutions have discovered a novel way to potentially treat alcohol misuse disorder. They found that the gene therapy used to treat Parkinson’s could also be adapted to reduce alcohol use in chronic heavy drinkers dramatically, at least in nonhuman primates. The treatment effectively involves using a specific molecule that induces cell growth to “reset” the brain’s dopamine reward pathways, thereby reducing a patient’s “brain reward center” when drinking.
Genetic alcoholism treatment
The therapy involves brain surgery, but the researchers are confident it could work effectively in humans too. “This was incredibly effective,” said co-senior author Kathleen Grant, Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU’s Oregon Primate National Research Center, or ONPRC.