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Medicine Science

Alcoholism Vaccine Makes Alcohol Intolerable To Drinkers 350

Hugh Pickens writes "Ariel Schwartz reports that researchers are working on an alcoholism vaccine that makes alcohol intolerable to anyone who drinks it. The vaccine builds on what happens naturally in certain people — about 20% of the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean population — with an alcohol intolerance mutation. Normally, the liver breaks down alcohol into an enzyme that's transformed into the compound acetaldehyde (responsible for that nasty hangover feeling), which in turn is degraded into another enzyme. The acetaldehyde doesn't usually have time to build up before it's broken down. But people with the alcohol intolerance mutation lack the ability to produce that second enzyme; acetaldehyde accumulates, and they feel terrible. Dr. Juan Asenjo and his colleagues have come up with a way to stop the synthesis of that second enzyme via a vaccine, mimicking the mutation that sometimes happens naturally. 'People have this mutation all over the world. It's like how some people can't drink milk,' says Asenjo. Addressing the physiological part of alcohol addiction is just one piece of the battle. Addictive tendencies could very well manifest in other ways; instead of alcohol, perhaps former addicts will move on to cigarettes. Asenjo admits as much: 'Addiction is a psychological disease, a social disease. Obviously this is only the biological part of it.'"
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Alcoholism Vaccine Makes Alcohol Intolerable To Drinkers

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  • by zifferent ( 656342 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:14PM (#42913913)
    If this works. Expect to see people get court-ordered to get an injection after alcohol-related offenses. The CJ will do anything and everything in their power to make the criminal's life unbearable, rob them of the self-esteem, and keep them in the system.
  • Re:Doubtful (Score:4, Informative)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:15PM (#42913935) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone really drink alcohol for the taste? Take the effect away and most drinks are a lot like drinking piss with a mediciney aftertaste.

    Actually...yes many of us like the taste.

    When I was a little kid and I had my first taste of beer, I LOVED it.

    I love the taste of fine wines...great with meals. I love a good, single malt scotch, with maybe a splash of water or a couple ice cubes (ok purists, bite me, I like it chilled a bit).

    I like mixed drinks...I like the bitter tastes of a gin and tonic with fresh lime on a hot summer afternoon, I like a real daquiri (not that fucking over fruited strawberry frozen shit)....I like a good mojito.

    Yes, many of us do enjoy alcohol's flavor in its various forms and mixed with things. The fact that it makes you feel great is definitely a plus.

  • Horrible summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheWingThing ( 686802 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:19PM (#42914015)

    This is one of the most horrible and stupidest summaries I've read in a long time. Enzymes are biochemical catalysts. Ethanol and acetaldehyde are substrates. The substrates get converted into end products with the help of enzymes and energy. Ethanol does not get converted *into* an enzyme known as acetaldehyde. Ethanol gets converted to acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, through the loss of one hydrogen atom. In the next step, acetaldehyde gets converted into acetic acid (same thing as in vinegar) by the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase through the loss of another hydrogen atom. Acetaldehyde a lot more toxic than acetic acid. If you block the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (which lacks naturally in a minority of East Asians), there will be an accumulation of excess acetaldehyde, causing very noxious symptoms. This is exactly what drugs like disulfiram ("antabuse") do. What a badly written summary. Both the submitter and the editor need to read some biochemistry or learn to use google before posting rubbish.

  • by UltraZelda64 ( 2309504 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:37PM (#42914343)

    A completely natural vaccine to prevent hangovers already exists. It's called water. After a long night of drinking enough booze that you know you'll end up with a hangover, go to sleep with a glass or bottle of water by your side. Most of the effects--especially the nastier ones--of a hangover are actually the effects of dehydration. You can drastically reduce its effects or even prevent having one completely by drinking enough water throughout the night. Depending on how much you drank and how dehydrated you get, having multiple bottles at easy reach can be more convenient.

  • Re:Doubtful (Score:4, Informative)

    by Altus ( 1034 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:42PM (#42914443) Homepage

    While the stones are great because they don't add some arbitrary amount of water, I do like a few drops in my scotch to open up the flavors a bit. This is particularly true with overproof scotches.

    For a lark, take a shot of water and add a few drops of scotch. I find that i can pick up on many flavors that get lost in the overall intensity of the drink. Also its like homeopathy for drinkers :-)

  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:49PM (#42914537)

    As someone who used to have hangovers quite frequently in his younger days, I can assure you that they're more than dehydration. I drank plenty of water and fluids (both before and fact the fact) and still felt like ass the next day.

  • Re:Vaccine? (Score:4, Informative)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:58PM (#42914707)

    In medical terminology vaccines likely do refer strictly to immunization against virii.

    No, vaccines are anything you use to provoke an antibody response against something. This includes viruses, but also bacteria toxins (toxoid vaccines, like the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines), and other things, such as TA-CD ( which produces antibodies against cocaine).

  • Re:Such resentment! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:28PM (#42915153) Homepage Journal
    It has not been proven to work. It has been proven to be no better than doing nothing at all (spontanious rate of remission). Penn and Teller even did an episode on it (search YouTube). Pretty damning stuff. AA is popular because it is free, because people are court ordered into it, and because prosthelitizing is part of the program, not because of any inherent quality.
  • Re:Doubtful (Score:4, Informative)

    by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:34PM (#42915247)

    The U.S. has the best beer in the world. Period. []

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:27PM (#42916033)
    Wiki also mentions " Individuals with deficient acetaldehyde dehydrogenase activity are far less likely to become alcoholics, but seem to be at a greater risk of liver damage, alcohol-induced asthma, and contracting cancers of the oro-pharynx and esophagus due to acetaldehyde overexposure."

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard