Can Alcohol, Nicotine Addictions Be Treated With Same Drug?

Categories: Health, Science
Two great things that go great together ... for a reason, apparently
The old joke used to go "Why do so many doctors smoke? Because it gives them something to do when they're drinking." Of course, that was back in the days when More Doctors Smoked Camels.

Perhaps they were on to something; years of soused, nicotine-buzzed doctors can now claim they were only doing advanced research. Doctors at U.C. San Francisco, a research center named for the nation's premier producer of jug wine, and a drug company best known for producing the boner pill have put forward the hypothesis that alcohol and cigarette dependence can be treated simultaneously with the very same chemical compounds. Cheers to that.

Per an article in this month's Neuropsychopharmacology, drunken mice were found to severely curtail their alcohol consumption when treated with a pair of substances that target the beasts' neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

"Alcohol and nicotine addiction are often treated as separate disorders, despite the fact that 60 to 80 percent of heavy drinkers smoke tobacco," study co-author Selena Bartlett says. "There are very few effective strategies for treating these disorders separately, let alone together. Our data suggest ... it may be possible to treat both alcohol and nicotine dependence with one medication."

Bartlett is director of the Preclinical Development group at the UCSF-affiliated Ernest Gallo Center. The compounds in question -- CP-601932 and PF-4575180 -- are both produced by Pfizer. The former has been demonstrated to be compatible with humans, and Bartlett hopes to see a clinical study undertaken in the near future.

We can think of entire neighborhoods that could be used as test cases.

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