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Medical News & Perspectives
April 22 2009

Findings on Alcohol Dependence Point to Promising Avenues for Targeted Therapies

JAMA. 2009;301(16):1643-1645. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.535

Clinicians have long recognized important differences among patients with alcohol dependence. Now scientists are working to translate these observations into therapies that will target the genetic and biological underpinnings of various types of alcohol use disorders.

For example, growing evidence indicates that patients with alcohol dependence who carry a particular variant of an opioid receptor gene are more likely to respond to naltrexone, raising the possibility that genetic tests may one day guide medication selection. Other evidence from preclinical and preliminary clinical studies points to potential alternative therapies for patients with alcoholism who are very sensitive to stress. And animal and preliminary human studies suggest that the smoking cessation drug varenicline may aid patients with alcohol use disorders.

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