Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Researchers in Chile Work on the World’s First Alcoholism Vaccine

There are now a handful of vaccines that aim to protect people from various illnesses, and it looks like it won’t be too long before a vaccine for alcoholics becomes available.

The Santiago Times reports that researchers at the University of Chile are set to begin preclinical trial for the alcoholism vaccine in February. Initially, the researchers will test the vaccine  on mice, and they will apply their findings to a human trial in November this year. If all goes well, the vaccine may be available two years from now, according to Dr. Juan Asenjo, director of the Institute for Cell Dynamics and Biotechnology at the university.

“If it works, it’s going to have a worldwide impact, but with many vaccines one has to test them carefully. I think the chances that this one will work are quite high,” Asenjo said.

The vaccine would work by speeding up the hangovers in alcohol drinkers in order to discourage consumption. Although the concept isn’t new, Asenjo said his research team is heading up the only trial of alcohol vaccines in the world.

But despite the promise of the vaccine, Asenjo was quick to point out that it isn’t a cure-all for people with an alcohol problem, though it could provide an important first step.

“People who end up alcoholic have a social problem; a personality problem because they’re shy, whatever, and then they are depressed, so it’s not so simple,” Asenjo noted. “But if we can solve the chemical, the basic part of the problem, I think it could help quite a bit.”

Sponsoring the research is Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research’s (CONICYT) Fondef program.

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