Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Apremilast, an anti-arthritis treatment that shows promising results against alcoholism

In the world of research, not the first drug that was intended to treat a disease or pathology has shown positive results in something completely different. We have seen it with some cancer treatments for weight loss. Now, an unexpected discovery reveals that a drug used for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is surprisingly effective in curbing alcohol addiction. This is Apremilast, sold under the name Otezla, a drug that belongs to a group of drugs called phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors, which reduce inflammation. In this new study, carried out by researchers at the Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), in the United States, this drug managed to reduce alcohol consumption by more than half: from five drinks a day to two.

Alcohol continues to be the drug with the highest consumption in Spain, and its dangerous consumption is one of the biggest public health problems, causing serious social damage. Among adults, this fact cannot be seen as surprising, since alcohol is fully integrated into life and social culture. However, in recent years, the high consumption of young people and minors, that position as the most dangerous psychoactive substance in its future development. Therefore, it is not uncommon for alcoholism as an addiction to reach an older or younger age. This brings hope, according to the authors, “I have never seen anything like it before.”

The best candidate yet

In 2015, lead author Kolter Grigsby, (a postdoctoral associate in the Ozburn lab), and his collaborators searched a genetic database for compounds that could oppose the expression of genes known to be associated with overeating. and apremilast seemed to be a promising candidate.

Ozburn and his supporters searched the genetic database for chemical compounds that could be associated with the opposite expression of genes associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Then they tested it on a variety of animal models with a wide range of drinking spots, from mild to severe. In both cases, apremilast reduced alcohol consumption. They found that apremilast increased activity in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain involved in regulating alcohol intake.

In this sense, studies show that alcohol abuse increases the expression of genes in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the ventral tegmental area (ATV) of the brain and that nicotine moderates this effect in the ATV.

Knowing this drug was tested in 51 people who were evaluated for 11 days of treatment. The results showed that, on average, people who received the drug reduced their alcohol consumption by more than half: from five drinks a day to two.

The study involved people with an alcohol use disorder, but who were not seeking any type of treatment. For this reason, Mason predicts that apremilast is even more effective in those who move to resection. “It’s imperative that more trials be done on those looking for treatments,” agrees Ozburn. “In this study we saw that apremilast worked in mice. He worked in different labs and worked on people. It’s incredibly promising for addiction treatment in general.”

The strong effect of apremilast in reducing alcohol consumption, combined with its good tolerability in our participants, makes it an excellent candidate for further evaluation as “a new treatment for people addicted to alcohol,” says Barbara Mason, Institute Writers. for Research and co-author stud.


In addition to therapy and other experimental natural compounds, three medications are approved to treat alcohol use disorder, according to MedlinePlus:

  • Disulfiram: Unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and reddening of the skin every time you drink alcohol.
  • Naltrexone: Blocks receptors in the brain that make you feel good when you drink alcohol. It can also reduce the desire to drink.
  • Acamprosate: Helps to avoid alcohol after you have stopped drinking. It works on multiple brain systems to reduce your cravings, especially after consumption.
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