3. GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

Injecting ‘incredibly effective’ gene into the brain could cure alcoholism: monkey study

Injecting ‘incredibly effective’ gene into the brain could cure alcoholism: monkey study
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

Injecting ‘incredibly effective’ gene into the brain could cure alcoholism: monkey study  New York Post

Injecting ‘incredibly effective’ gene into the brain could cure alcoholism: monkey study

Monkeys and Alcohol: A Study on Gene Therapy for Alcoholism

Introduction

Monkeys, like humans, have a penchant for alcohol. In a recent study, medical researchers successfully transformed eight rhesus macaque monkeys into heavy drinkers by gradually increasing the concentration of alcohol offered to them. Over a period of six months, these monkeys became regular binge drinkers, highlighting the similarities between humans and monkeys in terms of alcohol consumption.

The Purpose of the Research

The main objective of this research was to test a type of gene therapy that is currently used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The researchers hoped that this therapy could potentially be used to help individuals suffering from severe alcoholism. While drugs can temporarily stop people with alcohol use disorder from drinking, the desire to consume alcohol often overrides the effects of these medications. Therefore, the researchers explored the possibility of using gene therapy as an alternative treatment option.

The Gene Therapy Treatment

The research team, led by neuroscientist Kathleen Grant from Oregon Health & Science University, injected a gene therapy into the brains of four out of the eight alcoholic monkeys. This therapy involved the use of a growth factor protein called glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). Previous studies have shown that GDNF can stimulate the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with rewarding addictive behavior.

The Results

The injection of GDNF into the ventral tegmental area of the brain, where dopamine-producing neurons are located, proved to be highly effective. The treated monkeys significantly reduced their alcohol consumption, with some abstaining from alcohol completely. The desire to drink alcohol decreased to the point where blood-alcohol levels were no longer detectable. Furthermore, the benefits of the GDNF treatment were long-lasting, as alcohol use among the treated monkeys decreased by over 90% after a year compared to the control group.

The Role of Dopamine in Alcoholism

Dopamine plays a critical role in alcoholism. While acute alcohol use can increase dopamine levels, chronic alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in dopamine release. This explains why individuals with alcohol use disorder do not experience increased pleasure from drinking but continue to consume alcohol to maintain an intoxicated state.

Considerations and Ethical Concerns

Although the results of this study are promising, the gene therapy treatment is not yet ready for human trials. Additionally, even if it were to be used in humans, this type of brain surgery would only be recommended for severe cases of alcoholism. The treatment is irreversible and permanently alters the brain, raising both medical and ethical concerns. It would be considered a last resort for individuals who have exhausted all other treatment options and are at risk of severe harm or death due to their drinking.

Alcoholism as a Global Issue

Alcoholism is a significant problem not only in the United States but also worldwide. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 30 million Americans are living with alcohol use disorder. This study, published in Nature Medicine, was a collaborative effort involving researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Ohio State University, and the University of California, San Francisco.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Analysis

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

The article discusses the issue of alcoholism and its impact on health and well-being (SDG 3). It also mentions the availability of free access to alcohol, which can be connected to the need for clean water and sanitation (SDG 6). Additionally, the article highlights the ethical issues and the consideration of this treatment as a last resort for severe cases of alcoholism, which relates to the importance of strong institutions and justice (SDG 16).

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • Target 3.5: Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.
  • Target 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
  • Target 16.3: Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

The article highlights the research on gene therapy as a potential treatment for severe alcoholism, which aligns with the target of strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse (Target 3.5). The availability of free access to alcohol also raises concerns about safe and affordable drinking water (Target 6.1). Lastly, the ethical considerations and the need for strong institutions in deciding the use of irreversible brain surgery for alcoholism treatment relate to the target of promoting the rule of law and ensuring equal access to justice (Target 16.3).

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Indicator 3.5.1: Coverage of treatment interventions (pharmacological, psychosocial, and rehabilitation and aftercare services) for substance use disorders.
  • Indicator 6.1.1: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services.
  • Indicator 16.3.1: Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported their victimization to competent authorities or other officially recognized mechanisms.

The article mentions the use of gene therapy as a potential treatment for alcoholism, which can be considered a treatment intervention for substance use disorders (Indicator 3.5.1). The availability of safe and affordable drinking water is implied as a concern due to the free access to alcohol (Indicator 6.1.1). The ethical considerations and decision-making process regarding irreversible brain surgery for severe alcoholism can be connected to reporting victimization to competent authorities or recognized mechanisms (Indicator 16.3.1).

Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being Target 3.5: Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol. Indicator 3.5.1: Coverage of treatment interventions (pharmacological, psychosocial, and rehabilitation and aftercare services) for substance use disorders.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation Target 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. Indicator 6.1.1: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions Target 16.3: Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all. Indicator 16.3.1: Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported their victimization to competent authorities or other officially recognized mechanisms.

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: nypost.com

 

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