July 10, 2007

Curb Your Enthusiasm

From Newsvine: Anti-Smoking Pill May Help Curb Drinking
WASHINGTON — A single pill appears to hold promise in curbing the urges to both smoke and drink, according to researchers trying to help people overcome addiction by targeting a pleasure center in the brain.

The drug, called varenicline, already is sold to help smokers kick the habit. New but preliminary research suggests it could gain a second use in helping heavy drinkers quit, too…

"The biggest thrill is that this drug, which has already proved safe for people trying to stop smoking, is now a potential drug to fight alcohol dependence," said Selena Bartlett, a neuroscientist with the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study.
Now, you may think it's funny that a study on alcohol dependence is being conducted at a medical centre named after California's most famous vintner, but you should bear in mind that several well-known pharmaceuticals only gained clinical approval after extensive testing at ironically named research facilities. For example:

• Prozac's FDA approval relied heavily on research carried out at the Sylvia Plath Research and Teaching Hospital in Winnipeg.

• The controversial anti-hyperactivity drug Ritalin was piloted in a test group at the Mighty Morphin Super Happy Power Rangers Fun Time Clinic in Portland, Oregon.

• And, of course, a key study on the effects of Viagra was conducted at the Seeing Your Wife Swoon Over Ty Pennington's Toned Shirtlessness On The TV In The Bedroom Institute in Spokane, Illinois – and published, like the current study, in PNAS*.

(*Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which gained prominence in early 2007 when Bo Bladd, a professor but not a scientist at the University of Glasgow, published an incendiary article about the effect of genes on Chinese people's intelligence.)

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