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A New Treatment for Alcoholism in Monkeys Could Help Humans Next

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ANTONY DICKSON

Nearly 15 million people in the U.S. alone have an alcohol use disorder, and about 95,000 people die every year from alcohol-related deaths, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Most treatment options come in some form of counseling, although scientists have been trying to improve the efficacy of medications that could help make lifestyle changes stick more permanently.

A new option that could emerge in the future is based on a hormone called FGF21, which has now been found to suppress alcohol consumption in monkeys. In a peer-reviewed study published in Cell Metabolism on Tuesday, a team of researchers found that a new analogue compound of FGF21 given to alcohol-loving monkeys reduced booze intake by 50 percent.

“Using hormones as a therapeutic approach to treat substance use disorders is relatively novel,” Kyle Flippo, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist at the University of Iowa, told The Daily Beast. Previous evidence showed that mutations in the receptor for FGF21 have led to increased alcohol consumption in humans across many different ethnic groups and populations around the world. But “this is the first illustration that FGF21 analogues potentially reduce alcohol consumption in non-human primates,” opening the door for a potentially new kind treatment for alcoholism, Flippo said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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