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Red Faced and Flushed after Drinking? New Medication May Help

posted 08:58 AM EST, Tue May 06, 2008
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Red Faced and Flushed after Drinking? New Medication May Help © Photo: Rivard

Hundreds of millions of East Asians lack enzymes necessary for the breakdown of alcohol in the liver - a pill is on the way that may help.

In Hawaii, Asian Americans are spending days drinking Vodka in laboratories – all in the name of medical science!

Raptor Pharmaceuticals, of San Francisco, is in phase 2 testing of a medication that they hope will put an end to "Asian Flushing" and minimize much of the discomfort and disease risk associated with a genetic variation that leaves hundreds of millions of Asians less able to process alcohol.

Almost half of all East Asians display a genetic variation that leaves them unable to effectively process ethanol, and you don’t need a DNA test to find out who - after a couple of beers, anyone who has this genetic predisposition will give themselves away with a very flushed and reddened face.

People deficient in certain enzymes that break-down alcohol in the liver convert ethanol more slowly and ethanol spends more time in the body in a harmful "intermediary" state. People with this condition often find drinking uncomfortable because of this, and heavy drinking is especially risky for people with what is sometimes referred to as "Asian Flushing" as they are at greater risk for a host of alcohol related conditions, such as cirrhosis, Alzheimer's and heart disease.

There is also a huge market for medication that might reduce the discomfort and risk of alcohol consumption for the hundreds of millions of primarily Asians who experience the gene expression – the market in Japan alone is estimated at almost 1 billion dollars annually; a market American pharmaceutical companies are eying hungrily.

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