Researchers at the University of Chile have found that mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections could treat a genetic predisposition for excessive alcohol consumption. In an animal model, rats that were bred to consume high volumes of alcohol received intracranial MSC injections, which are meant to treat the neuroinflammation exhibited in individuals who chronically abuse alcohol [and drugs]. The study revealed that following the injections, voluntary alcohol intake decreased dramatically. These are promising results for the many people suffering from a predisposition to alcoholism. Additionally, the study addressed the significant hurdle of devising an effective method of delivery for the stem cells. While intracranial injections ensure the most concentrated delivery of stem cells, it is not ideal. Intravenous delivery also proves difficult given the highly selective blood-brain barrier. The researchers addressed both issues by effectively reducing cell size by growing MSCs in a spheroid aggregate and then administering them intravenously. This enabled the MSCs to be delivered to the brain effectively and efficiently, reducing the alcohol intake by 90% in as little as 48 hours.
"When a single dose of small-sized cells was injected intravenously, it reduced brain inflammation and the oxidative stress in the animals that had consumed alcohol chronically…Brain inflammation and oxidative stress are known to self-perpetuate each other, creating conditions which promote a long-lasting relapse risk,” comments Yedy Israel, one of the authors of this study.
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