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Chilean Researchers Working on Alcoholism Vaccine

A team of researchers in Chile are working to come up with a vaccine against alcoholism. If successful, the patient will get a shot a month and not crave alcohol anymore.

The genetic therapy is based on aldehyde dehydrogenase, a group of enzymes that metabolize alcohol and are thus responsible for alcohol tolerance, Juan Asenjo, who heads a team of researchers at Chile's Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics and the private lab Recalcine, told the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

The vaccine would work like a cigarette patch, but would specifically target liver cells, he told the news service. The idea is to reduce the habit by 90 to 95 percent, he said.

According to a press release by the university, the vaccine would reduce unease, nausea and accelerated heart rate, helping alcohol addicts kick their habit.

“The therapy has been tested in rats that are genetically alcoholics, and has worked successfully to decrease the addiction by 50 percent,” Asenjo said in the press release. “In one to two years we will start testing patients. If the result in humans is similar to the results we saw in animals, one shot a month would be sufficient at the beginning to … help alleviate the addiction.”

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