Hormone therapy reduces desire for alcohol

A hormone therapy may offer a new approach to treating alcoholism. Researchers say that rats injected with cabergoline--sold under the brand name Dostinex--reduced their level of drinking. Reporting in Biological Psychiatry, the team also said that the drug did not produce any noticeable changes in other behavior.

"This is encouraging, because it demonstrates that cabergoline is specific for alcohol but does not affect general reward or pleasure. One of the problems with some existing drugs to treat alcoholism is a side effect that decreases pleasure, making compliance an obstacle to sobriety," said Dorit Ron, a principal investigator at UC San Francisco's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center.

To test the drug, rats that had been trained to press a lever to get a drink were injected with the drug. The higher the dose, the fewer times the rats pressed the lever. And the same effect was noted among binge drinkers. But researchers also noted that the drug evidently would work in humans at a low dose, reducing the risk of an adverse drug effect.

The drug increases production of GDNF, which researchers had already determined worked to reduce the desire for alcohol.

- read the report from HealthDay