University of Minnesota researchers have discovered that N-acetyl cysteine, a common amino acid available as a health food supplement, may help curb pathological gamblers’ addiction.
In a recent eight-week trial, 27 people were given increasing doses of the amino acid, which has an impact on the chemical glutamate – often associated with reward in the brain. At the end of the trial, 60 percent of the participants reported fewer urges to gamble.
“It looks very promising,” said Jon Grant, J.D., M.D., a University of Minnesota associate professor of psychiatry and principal investigator of the study. “We were able to reduce people’s urges to gamble.”
Those who responded well in the first round of the study were asked to continue to participate in a double-blind study – a testing method where neither the researcher nor subjects know who is in the control group until the study is finished.
Of the 16 who responded to the amino acid the first time around, 13 agreed to continue in the double-blind study (three didn’t want to risk quitting the drug) for an additional six weeks. About 83 percent who received the supplement, continued to report fewer urges to gamble. Nearly 72 percent of those who took the placebo went back to gambling.
Similar studies using N-acetyl cysteine have shown its ability to curb drug addictions in animals, and a current University of Minnesota study conducted by Grant is investigating whether the drug could help methamphetamine users quit.
“This research could be encouraging for a lot of addictions,” Grant said.
This pilot study is the first to examine the efficacy of a glutamate-modulating agent in the treatment of pathological gamblers, making the findings fairly significant, Grant said.
Because subjects knew they were taking a supplement during the first phase of the study and since there was a relatively small number of subjects in the double-blind portion, a larger study is warranted to confirm the validity of these findings. University of Minnesota researchers are currently seeking a federal grant to fund it.
- Biological Psychiatry, September 2007.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- How Zika Infects The Placenta
- Scientists Discover How Supermassive Black Holes Keep Galaxies Turned Off
- Music For The Eyes
- Schrödinger's Cat Is Not Just Alive And Dead, He's Both In 2 Places At Once
- Genomic Study Tracks African-American Dispersal In The Great Migration
- B0 Meson Lifetime Difference Measured By ATLAS
- Voluntary Birth Control To Stop Climate Change - Or Else
- "Four paragraphs in I hit delete. I'm just going to wish you the best in all things...."
- "Oh rightio. I should add something about that as background for those who haven't come across the..."
- "Okay. Read it. Liked about half The part I found most startling was the meaning of the phrase,..."
- "I didn't think to add, of course you can also share sterilized distilled water with an ETI - if..."
- "this must be mystery, Cat Mystery. lol..."