The shot is not of the glass variety, but of the syringe type. And it takes only one gene therapy injection of a type of virus known as adenoviruses to help an alcoholic give up the habit of drinking, a study from the University of Chile in Santiago reports.
Chilean researchers, led by Amalia Sapag, discovered that rats treated with gene therapy via an injection were less likely to crave alcohol than those without. The rats were bred to want alcohol and were then injected with viruses engineered to disrupt the gene for an enzyme involved in alcohol metabolism. The rats injected with the engineered adenoviruses drank 50 percent less for more than a month.
Aldehyde dehydrogenase is blocked by the drug disulfiram, also known as Antabuse, which is sometimes used to help alcoholics quit drinking. “But you have to take it [disulfiram] every day, so there is a big problem with compliance,” says Sapag.
To provide a longer-lasting effect, Sapag and his team engineered adenoviruses to carry an “antisense” version of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene that blocks the production of the enzyme involved in alcohol metabolism. A single injection reduced the enzyme’s activity in the rats’ livers by 80 percent.
Illustration: MicroSoft clipart.
In the News (06/20/07)
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