Alcoholism affects people from every demographic category, and it is a deadly disease. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that more than 80,000 people die each year from alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. When alcoholism takes so many lives, it becomes a grave health concern that healthcare experts try to address in as many ways as possible. A new study using stem cell therapy to treat alcohol addiction has revealed promising results.
What is a Stem Cell?
Stem cells are elemental cells that have the ability to develop into various types of specialized cells. A stem cell can transform into over two hundred different types of cells in the human body such as a lung cell, kidney cell, or brain cell. They also can self-renew through mitosis, or cell duplication, meaning that each stem cell can produce more of the same. Stem cells are either embryonic (taken from umbilical cord blood) or adult cells (taken from bone marrow, processed blood, or adipose tissue).
Stem cell therapy refers to using these stem cells for the treatment of certain conditions. For example, regenerative medicine uses stem cells to restore tissue and organ function in patients with chronic diseases or serious injuries. Current research is also looking at using stem cell therapy to treat genetic conditions at their source. A few examples of conditions that are considered largely genetic are drug and alcohol addiction.
Using Stem Cell Therapy as an Alcohol Addiction Treatment
A 2017 study conducted by the University of Chile concluded that intracerebral injections of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into bred rats that had high alcohol intake resulted in drastic reductions in chronic consumption of alcohol. Researchers then faced a hurdle knowing that intracerebral administration is not the ideal way to treat any condition in a human. MSCs are larger molecules, so they have difficulty reaching the brain when they are injected intravenously.
To solve this problem in the latest study, a research team aggregated MSCs into smaller spheroid shapes, which reduced their size up to 75 percent. This allows them to be injected intravenously and to reach the brain. The study was once again done on rats with an intravenous injection. Within 48 hours of a single treatment, the rats had reduced their intake of alcohol by 90 percent. Human trials to verify these results will be the next step.
Getting Alcohol Addiction Help
The NIAAA reports that more than 15 million people in the U.S. struggle with an alcohol use disorder, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment. Alcoholism can have a significant impact on your relationships and career and can destroy your health. Continued alcohol abuse can damage your liver, heart, brain, pancreas, and immune system. If you want to stop drinking, there is a way out, but stem cell treatment is not something that you can expect to see in the next few years.
The Recovery Village offers comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment programs that we tailor to your needs. We provide detox services as well as inpatient and outpatient care, family therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and aftercare. Contact us now to learn more about admissions and take the first step to begin your recovery.