Researchers at the University of Chile are developing a vaccine to combat alcohol abuse and the disease of alcoholism. The injection lasts for six months and blocks the liver from metabolizing alcohol. One drink after the vaccine gives the drinker an instant hangover, including nausea, pain and accelerated heart rate.
Hailed as the world’s first alcoholism vaccine, the drug will be tested on mice in February, with clinical trials on humans expected in November. The researchers have been working on the drug for the past year, they announced January 26.
University of Chili Institute of Cell Dynamics and Biotechnology director Juan Asenjo believes the vaccine is an important step in countering alcoholism, which ravages one of every 15 men in Chile, according to the World Health Organization. “If we can solve the chemical, the basic part of the problem, I think it could help quite a bit.”
The drug is similar to a near-century old product called Disulfiram, a pill marketed as Antabuse. Disulfiram blocks the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, causing nausea if the patient drinks alcohol. But the pill didn’t curb alcoholic’s cravings and many hangover-ravaged patients simply quit taking the pill. Many in the medical community reject Antabuse because a doctor’s oath is to “first do no harm” and prescribing Disulfiram is an intervention that intentionally makes people sick.