Gallo and Wine: The Impact May Be Never Ending

Egallo It's not a perfect irony, but it's interesting: It is being reported that researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in San Francisco are moving closer to not only understanding alcohol and nicotine addiction, but toward developing drugs that inhibit the dopamine-induced pleasure our brains experience when alcohol and nicotine hit it. This development would, presumably, lead to severely lessening the addictive impact that alcohol and nicotine might have on a person.

Call me insensitive or innappropriate, but upon reading this very good bit of news, I am prompted to wonder if it will help or hurt the wine industry when alcohol's addictive qualities are so masked by simple drugs. Will people drink more or less wine?

On the one hand, if alcohol addiction is but a very unlikely reaction to imbibing, perhaps folks will drink more; perhaps those who don't drink for fear of coming under the influence of alcohol's addictive reach will no longer fear this and indulge.

On the other hand, perhaps those who now drink to excess because of an addiction, will be able to finally move away from the excessive consumption and they will drink less wine.

Better yet, perhaps both of these reactions will be the result of the development of a "medications that could be used "to take the edge off of addiction by helping people get over some of their reward craving," as the researchers put it.

Ernest and Julio Gallo provided the means by which America would become a wine drinking country. Perhaps they will also have provided the means by which Americans (and others) become better composed and responsible drinkers. Again, it's not a perfect irony, but it is head-nodding, and smirk-inducing circumstance.

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3 Responses

  1. SUAMW - September 13, 2011

    Has it never occurred to you as strange that every substance people get addicted to comes down to the Dopamine/Serotonin issue – yet all of these substances act on various different transmitters and receptors?….
    When one looks at the functioning of the drug-naive brain of an addict, one begins to see a pattern emerge between the existing function and dysfunction of a particular patient’s brain and the substance which they use most commonly.
    There is not much choice in “drug of choice”.
    What we are seeing is people abuse stimulants because those drugs “fix” or “treat” an underlying dysfunction – as do depressants (alcohol, benzos, even opiates).
    The pleasure pathways are just a common end-pathway of dependence.

  2. JohnLopresti - September 13, 2011

    Something about the linked article’s presentation seems incomplete. I would have to read scientific journals in psychiatry and pharmaceuticals development for a more complete picture. Clinical medicine practitioners in many disparate fields face both predictable and paradoxical results of various regimens for which dependency is documented after longterm dosing. Alcohol has the interesting property of infinite miscibility with water, a feature which I have thought longtime might be a key to its near ubiquity in modern social milieux. But, like the post author, I would ask, as well, whether the Gallo research might result simply in more product sales when the desensitizing pill Gallo might design could decrease the likelihood of dependency responses, as well as enhancing lawyers’ arguments that people’s actions were delinked from alcohol ingestion. As a matter of basic principles in pharmaceutical design, I believe that it is standard practice already to create new drugs which mimic, for example, botannicals, but the synthetics are altered to mask or eliminate patients’ responses such as pleasure, dysphoria, dependency. There are many tiers of concepts being described in that article describing Gallo’s investigations. One immediate comparison which occurred to me is the science developing very near to the Gallo lab, across the Golden Gate, where the Buck center on aging has conducted elaborate experiments to understand the experience, and various treatments for the eccentricities in, old people.

  3. Marie Payton - September 13, 2011

    The leap from research in mice to creating a drug that works in humans is much larger than most imagine. Mice have been cured of just about every disease known to man. Only time and many experiments will tell if this research pans out in people. Read stories about Vivitrol, a treatment from Alkermes for alcohol/opioid addiction.

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