Can a vaccine cure alcoholism by making patients miserable after one sip of alcohol? Scientists from the University of Chile are working on a vaccine that would trigger an immediate, crippling hangover after drinking even a small amount of alcohol.
The vaccine works by stopping the body’s normal metabolizing of alcohol. Usually, the liver turns alcohol into acetaldehyde, a compound that causes the typical hangover systems of headache and nausea. A metabolizing enzyme breaks down this compound, minimizing its effects. For those who receive the vaccine, it will send a biochemical message telling the liver not to express genes that break down acetaldehyde and metabolize alcohol. A small amount of alcohol will trigger nausea, accelerated heartbeat, and general discomfort.
Scientists say the vaccine’s effects cannot be reversed, and it will be effective for six months to a year. Researchers will soon begin preclinical trials on mice and expect to begin testing the vaccine on humans by the end of the year.
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