Could stem cells be the future treatment for alcoholism?
A new study made some pretty incredible headway finding that a dose of human mesenchymal stem cells administered to rats bred to be high alcohol drinkers significantly reduced their voluntary alcohol intake. These findings add to the growing hypothesis that stem cell treatments may be effective in battling a variety of addiction disorders.
"Recent research has indicated that chronic use of addictive drugs, including alcohol, cocaine and opiates, is associated with an increase in neuroinflammation. Other studies, in both humans and rats, have also suggested that pro-inflammatory conditions in the brain can increase voluntary alcohol consumption."
Brain inflammation de-regulates your dopamine receptors. Instead of having a red stop light to regulate drinking, your dopamine receptors give you a green light and you continue to light up a reward center with no regulation.
A team of researchers from the University of Chile found that the intracerebral in injections of mesenchymal stem cells into high-alcohol intake bred rats resulted in the animals dramatically reducing chronic alcohol consumption. The hurdle the researchers did face is that intracerebral administration of any substance is not an ideal way to treat chronic alcoholism in humans and because the cells are relatively large they tend to not effectively reach the brain when injected intravenously.
The team found a way to counteract this problem by utilizing a technique that can aggregate MSCs into smaller spheroid shapes, reducing their size up to 75% thus allowing them to be injected intravenously and get to the brain more efficiently. They used this technique and injected them intravenously into the rats who had been bred for high alcohol intake.
"When a single dose of small-sized cells was injected intravenously, it reduced brain inflammation and the oxidative stress in the animals that had consumed alcohol chronically," explains Yedy Israel, one of the authors of the new study. "Brain inflammation and oxidative stress are known to self-perpetuate each other, creating conditions which promote a long-lasting relapse risk."
The rats in the study has reduced their alcohol intake by 90% within 48 hours of the treatment. Alcohol-induced neuroinflammation was also significantly reduces and the effects were seen to last for 3-5 weeks following infusion. This research is a valuable addition to the work targeting neuroinflammation and finding a way to battle chronic consumption of addictive drugs. "The next stage for Israel and the team is to move into human clinical studies and verify these results, with a view to develop new stem cell-based therapies to treat alcoholism."At Second Nature, we believe in a team approach for addressing your relationship to alcohol. We recommend AA groups, local therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in addiction. We offer specific amino acid therapies, liver support, environmental detoxification, lead poisoning treatment (lead is associated with high alcohol consumption), blood sugar regulation, dietary strategies, I.V. Ozone chelation to address elevated lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminum, special I.V. formulations for liver, gallbladder and pancreas damage; homeopathic remedies specific for addiction and seed therapies to heal the psyche.