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Drug shows promise as potential treatment for alcoholism


Narrator:      This is Science Today. Medication that's commonly prescribed as a muscle relaxant has shown promise in the lab as a potential treatment for alcoholism. Researcher Woody Hopf of the University of California, San Francisco's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center says they tested chlorzoxazone, which is an FDA-approved drug, and found that it significantly decreased alcohol consumption in a rat model of heavy drinking.

Hopf:            The basic goal of our research is to find things that are neuro adaptations — functional changes in the brain that in theory, last the whole lifetime in an alcoholic even once they've been abstinent for months or years.

Narrator: In their rat model, Hopf and his colleagues found that this muscle relaxant works by causing neurons to be less excitable when alcohol was present ... essentially, suppressing the urge to drink.

Hopf:            So, we actually haven't looked in humans yet to see whether the exact neuro adaptation has occurred yet, but at least we have the ability to test it in humans and hopefully by the end of this year we'll know at least in our first trial whether we have good luck or not.

Narrator:      For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.