TTU research team receives $7.25 million grant, developing drug to treat Alcohol Use Disorder

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LUBBOCK, Texas — A research team at Texas Tech’s Health Science Center just received a $7.25 million grant from the National Institute of Health to continue their research into alcohol use disorder.

“I’ve been passionate about finding a way to help patients with alcohol use disorder,” said Professor of Cell Biology and Biochemistry and research team leader, Dr. Susan Bergeson. 

Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that includes problems controlling drinking or having to drink more to get the same effects.

Dr. Bergeson and her team have been working for around seven years to tweak an antibiotic that is already on the market to help those struggling with AUD.

Their new drug has already been tested on mice and pigs, and it has shown to be effective at reducing alcohol use disorder related symptoms, including reducing brain inflammation caused by high alcohol use and lessening cravings for alcohol.

“I’m actually just thrilled that we may be able to get help to the individuals that suffer,” said Dr. Bergeson. 

There are similar drugs already on the market and often used to help those recovering from addiction.

“I think that they can be very beneficial, but also recovery isn’t just about stopping the craving there is a reason they are drinking,” said Program Director of Stages of Recovery, Melissa Aguilar. 

Dr. Bergeson said none of them are as effective as they could be.

“I don’t think that any drug can replace cognitive behavioral therapy, but I’m really hoping that having a medication that reduces their craving would be helpful to them,” said Dr. Bergeson. 

And with the over $7 million grant, they have received they are planning to start the Food and Drug Administration approval process to push their drug toward the market.

“I think it’s amazing, I think it’s ongoing, and this research needs to continue,” said Aguilar

Dr. Bergeson and her team are hoping that this grant will allow them to help as many recovering addicts as they can

“So, that’s the step we’re in now, and it makes me excited that we are one step closer to helping the patients who suffer,” said Dr. Bergeson. “So, we have a long way ahead of us.”

Dr. Bergeson said only 10 percent of drugs make it through FDA approval to human trials but that getting it approved could be anywhere from 10-20 years. 

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