Swedish alcoholism drug awaits human study

A new drug to combat alcoholism developed at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy may become reality in the future.

Swedish alcoholism drug awaits human study

The drug influences the brain’s dopamine reward system, which is activated by alcohol, and has demonstrated positive results in experiments on rats.

“We really believe in the concept. It can have a positive effect because it has clearly proved so in results in experiments on animals,” Helga Höifödt Lidö, who successfully defended the research last week, told The Local on Monday.

Eighty-five percent of the rats in the study demonstrated positive results from using the drug. Current drugs to fight alcoholism only work on a minority of patients.

Höiföd Lidö was awarded a PhD in neuropharmacology following her defence. She is anxious to have the drug tested on humans. While the school had previously begun a clinical study on humans, it was suspended.

“A clinical study with our partners was under way. Unfortunately, during the process, they were acquired by a major pharmaceutical company and it led to several clinical trials being shut down, including this study,” said Höifödt Lidö.

However, she is confident that funding will be found to resume the study later this year.

“The preclinical findings were remarkable, incomparable to other substances screened for alcoholic intake reducing agents and superior to anything else I’ve ever seen. It has great potential in humans,” she said.

“The safety profile is okay. It has already been tested in man for schizophrenia to good effect. There are no reports of serious side effects, no abuse risk for these compounds, it’s all about getting a clinical trial up and running,” she added.

Höifödt Lidö has researched determining glycine levels for five years as part of her PhD research in conjunction with broader studies in the field

The human study was a multi-centre undertaking involving alcoholics in Europe and Australia. When it was suspended late last year, 150 patients were enrolled, with more to follow.

It had already been under way for six months, the expected duration of participation for each subject, but patients enrolled at different times.

Several clinical studies were closed immediately before the results were analysed following the takeover due to financial reasons, according to Höifödt Lidö.

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