Disulfiram may help treat blinding disorder: Study

Disulfiram is a common medication used for the treatment of alcohol abuse. In fact, it is the first drug to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat chronic alcohol dependence. According to experts, the drug causes acutely toxic physical reaction when mixed with alcohol that helps in treating alcohol dependence.

Researchers are still unsure whether the drug directly decreases the urge to drink, but studies have proved that it does not affect brain opiate, γ-aminobutyric acid or glutamate receptors directly. This further makes disulfiram safe and effective for alcohol aversive treatment.

While experiments and researches are being conducted to explore and tap the complete potential of disulfiram, a recent study has discovered the drug to be effective in treating blinding disorder. As per the research, conducted by the University College London, Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Duke University School of Medicine, disulfiram has the capacity to prevent conjunctival scarring, a major cause of chronic eye pain and sight loss.

Disulfiram fights signs of scarring in conjunctiva

Blinding conjunctivitis is caused due to scarring conjunctiva, a membrane covering the eye. Conjunctiva helps in lubricating and protecting the eyes, but inflammation in conditions like ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid (ocular pemphigoid) and severe eye allergy can cause scarring and can affect the protective functions of conjunctiva.  

Ocular pemphigoid is immune mediated common scarring conjunctival disorder and its common treatment is to suppress the immune system that further subsides inflammation. The practice has several unpleasant side effects and less positive effects on scarring.  

As per the latest research, disulfiram has qualified to effectively reduce the inflammation, to prevent scarring in vivo and to reduce the signs of scarring in vitro, in human ocular pemphigoid fibroblasts. During the research it was discovered that people with ocular pemphigoid had more active aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) family of enzymes in tissue and fibroblasts, when compared with the control group. And disulfiram was observed to have the potential to block the ALDH activity. Thus, the drug helped in reducing the inflammation, preventing the scarring of the membrane.

Treatment of alcohol abuse through disulfiram

Disulfiram, as a drug to treat alcohol abuse, obstructs the ALDH activity that processes alcohol. However, there are concerns about its side effects. While its consumption does not cause elimination of alcohol from the body, it increases the level of acetaldehyde – a toxic chemical harmful for body and brain – in blood every time alcohol is consumed. This is known as disulfiram-alcohol reaction, which generally occurs within 10-30 minutes of alcohol consumption.

The disulfiram-alcohol reaction has adverse effect on the body. A mild reaction does not cause any harm, but a severe reaction can make a person unconscious. It is also important to note that disulfiram-alcohol reaction can be life-threatening, however, with controlled monitoring and vigilance, such outcomes are rare.

While the recent research has opened a new avenue for using disulfiram to treat blinding disorders, the prime use of the drug is to treat alcohol abuse. Alcohol works negatively both for mind and body. It hampers decision-making ability and even mars the sense of right and wrong. Therefore, it is imperative to seek help from one of the recognized alcohol rehabilitation centers for complete recovery from alcoholism.  

If you or a loved one is fighting alcohol abuse, you can seek assistance from the Florida Alcohol Addiction Helpline to know about one of the best alcohol treatment centers in Florida. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-220-5381 or chat online to get information about top alcohol rehab centers in Florida.