Treating Alcohol Addiction with Markus Heilig

Uploaded by IRPNIH on 06.08.2012

>> So alcohol addiction is one
of the greatest public health problems we have.
It's the third most common cause of preventable death
in the U.S. We have some options for treating patients
with alcohol addiction, but they are very limited
in what they can do.
So what we are about here is try to understand the biology
of alcohol addiction and use that understanding
to develop new treatments.
Some of the research that we are doing here is aimed at trying
to understand better-- it turns out in clinical practice
that Naltrexone helps some patients quite well
and other patients not so much.
And so this takes us directly into the era
of personalized medicine and pharmacogenetics.
The next step is, of course, coming up with new medications.
So if we've concluded
that Naltrexone really only helps one group that's
characterized by their genetics, that really makes it
that much more important to come up with novel mechanisms
that can help the other patients.
So that's what we're studying and we have several
such mechanisms under study right now.
So there's a magic moment in this line of work,
and it's when, you know, it used to be
when I'd press the analyze button on some new data.
Now it's most of the time a postdoc or some other coworker
who will come with that analysis,
but for a moment you know something that is new
and that no one else knows in the world.
We really try to do translational research here.
We really try to identify new mechanisms in our animal models
and then take that to human studies as quickly as possible.
If we have an interesting conversation in the lab one day,
we can basically start designing the experiments
or the clinical studies the next day and get to work
on getting them going.
That doesn't happen anywhere else, where you have to go
through a grant application cycle and several revisions most
of the time of those grants.
So it's a very different timeline.
Here things happen in real-time.