Alcohol use curbed by anti-nausea medication, study finds

Jan 25, 2011 By Shari Roan

Alcoholics who were given a medication approved for quelling nausea were able to cut back on their alcohol intake, researchers reported this week. The medication, ondansetron (Zofran), could become a readily available therapy for helping some alcoholics become abstinent.

The study, published Wednesday in the , is based on research on a gene known as 5-HTT that is important to the serotonin system of the brain. Certain variants of this gene can increase the risk of , such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction.

Ondansetron is used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by . But it's in a class of medications that work by blocking serotonin. The study tested the idea that a drug to block this neurotransmitter in genetically susceptible people might reduce the severity of their drinking.

Researchers analyzed the of 283 alcoholics who were still drinking. They found that those with the 5-HTT LL genotype who received ondansetron took fewer drinks per day and had more days of abstinence over the 11-week study compared with people with the LL genotype who did not receive the drug. All the study participants received cognitive-behavioral therapy aimed at helping them become abstinent.

Among the patients who received ondansetron, those with the LL genotype or another variant called LL/TT cut back on their drinking enough to move out of the "high-risk" category of drinkers. But the drug did not seem to help patients who had other forms of the 5-HTT genotype.

The study was led by Bankole A. Johnson, chairman of the department of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, and an expert in medications used to treat addiction. His paper on the use of topiramate - an anti-seizure medication - to treat alcoholism was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007.

In an e-mail, Johnson said that ondansetron had a stronger effect on promoting abstinence than topiramate in the LL genotype group. "Genotyping is becoming more common place and inexpensive," he said, opening the door to tailoring addiction treatment based on an individual's genes.

Explore further: More than a quarter of emergency contraceptives in Peru falsified or substandard

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers uncover gene's role in severity of drinking

Feb 04, 2009

New research from the University of Virginia Health System could help explain why some alcoholics are more severe drinkers than others. A UVA team has found strong evidence that the serotonin transporter gene, SLC6A4, plays ...

Scientists identify drug to treat opioid addiction

Feb 17, 2009

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that a commonly available non-addictive drug can prevent symptoms of withdrawal from opioids with little likelihood of serious side effects. The drug, ondansetron, ...

Gene variant may increase severity of MS

Aug 02, 2010

A new study shows a gene variant may increase the severity of multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. The research will be published in the August 3, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neu ...

Recommended for you

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

Apr 17, 2014

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Drug watchdog urges vigilance in cancer drug theft

Apr 17, 2014

Europe's medicine watchdog urged doctors Thursday to be vigilant in administering the cancer drug Herceptin, vials of which had been stolen in Italy and tampered with before being sold back into the supply chain.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.