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Drug Addiction Could Be Cured With Gene Therapy

DNA.gagnonm1993/Pixabay

The opioid addiction crisis gripping the U.S. is currently one of the biggest health issues plaguing the country. In many cases, opioid addicts turn to using heroin or methamphetamine in order to get high. In what could potentially be the biggest medical breakthrough of the decade, scientists have reportedly developed a method to simply alter the DNA of addicts to help them overcome their vice.

The new treatment was developed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences researchers, which involves inserting a genetically engineered gene into the DNA of a meth addict. This gene will then signal the body to create antibodies that will go after the drug, Futurism reports.

The delivery method of this treatment is via a virus and once it’s inside the patient, it will start making the changes. The resulting antibodies will bind with the meth molecules, thus preventing them from reaching the brain. While it won’t entirely eliminate the high that the addict experiences, it won’t be as pronounced as it would have been otherwise, no matter the dose.

With this new method, addicts can have a much easier time kicking the habit, especially when paired with behavioral therapies. Overcoming addiction is part psychological and part physical, after all, which can be particularly troublesome for patients who have terrible histories.

On that note, it’s worth pointing out that even with the gene therapy option, drug addicts could still fall into their old habits. What’s more, there’s the chance of meth addicts simply giving themselves higher doses to feel a stronger effect, MIT’s Technology Review recently reported.

The bottom line is that there is much more work to be done before drug addiction can be addressed using other drugs or even through gene therapy. However, it’s at least encouraging that there could be a future when addicts of all kinds can simply be cured with a simple shot in the arm.

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