Developing research that can transfer its results to clinical practice is the primary objective of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CMR) of the Medical School Clinica Alemana Universidad del Desarrollo. In this context, several investigations have been carried out with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), aimed at determining how their use can help overcome some chronic pathologies, such as alcoholism.
It is well established that the permanent consumption of alcohol, both in humans and animals, causes problems of brain inflammation. This leads to alterations in their levels of neurotransmitters, reminding them how much they like to drink, just by looking at a bottle or smelling alcohol.
In this context, after several years of research and performing tests on rats consuming alcohol, CMR directors Marcelo and Fernando Ezquer, in conjunction with a team of scientists from the Universidad de Chile, concluded that the administration of stem cells has proven to be useful as a method to combat disorders related to the chronic consumption of alcohol in these animals. These results would be explained by the anti-inflammatory effect produced by these cells in the brain.
The first experiments consisted of administering a single injection of MSCs into a brain lateral ventricle of rats that had been drinking alcohol for 17 weeks, and the result demonstrated that MSCs inhibited chronic alcohol consumption by 70%. Moreover, recent studies have shown that intravenous administration of MSCs spheroids reduces chronic alcohol intake and abolishes binge-drinking.
According to the specialists, the next stage of the research is to transfer the concept/knowledge to biotechnology laboratories to develop a biopharmaceutical and carry out clinical studies.
*Figure: human mesenchymal stem cell in culture, before the administration in alcoholic rats. The nucleus was labeled with DAPI (red), and the cytoskeleton was identified by the presence of α-SMA (blue).