June 13, 2016
I failed against cancer, but I may succeed against alcoholism.
What molecule am I?
Image of Alectinib 3D Image of Alectinib

Alectinib, a drug developed in the past few years by a division of Hoffmann-La Roche, is an ALK inhibitor that was designed to treat a type of lung cancer. (ALK is the enzyme anaplastic lymphoma kinase.) A phase III study conducted this past February, however, was stopped early because the drug performed no better than its predecessor crizotinib.

Amy W. Lasek at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and others discovered that ALK is also associated with alcohol dependence. She and her co-workers hypothesized that alectinib treatment might be a way to control the dependence.

When the researchers administered the drug to laboratory mice, the animals drank less of a 20% ethanol solution than control mice. The control and test animals continued to drink nonalcoholic beverages in equal amounts, demonstrating that alectinib was specific for the alcohol pathway in the brain.

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