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A Novel Compound for Alcoholism Treatment: A Translational Strategy

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT02707055
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : March 14, 2016
Last Update Posted : May 13, 2019
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) )

Brief Summary:


Hormones are naturally occurring chemicals in the body. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. It may also stimulate alcohol cravings and use. Researchers want to learn more about alcohol cravings and test if a drug that blocks ghrelin lowers alcohol cravings.


To test if the drug PF-05190457 decreases alcohol craving.


People ages 18 65 who have:

Alcohol use disorder

No other serious medical problems

Woman must be postmenopausal or have had surgery to prevent pregnancy.


Participants will stay on the inpatient unit here at the Clinical Center for two 2-week stages, which will be separated by at least 2 days. The inpatient phase include:

Taking the study drug or placebo by mouth twice daily

Blood tests

Tasting several sweet solutions

Physical exams

Smokers will smoke cigarettes through a device that gives information about how they smoke a


Exposure to alcohol, water, and food cues in a bar-like room. Participants answer questions on a computer.

Blood pressure and heart rate are monitored through an arm cuff and sensors on the chest. Saliva is collected

through cotton rolls in the mouth.

MRIs: Participants lie on a table that slides in and out of the cylinder, and a coil is placed over the head.

They complete tasks on a computer screen while in the cylinder. This lasts up to 2 hours.

Wearing a virtual reality headset, walking around a virtual room, and selecting virtual food and drink.

Participants will have 8 hour long follow-up visits in our Outpatient Clinic These include:

Counseling to abstain from alcohol use. Sessions may be videotaped.

Physical exams


Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Alcoholism Drug: PF-05190457 Behavioral: MI-VF Other: Placebo Other: Counseling Phase 2

Detailed Description:


Ghrelin is a 28-amino acid peptide that stimulates appetite and food intake. It is an endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR1a). Preclinical studies suggest that ghrelin modulates alcohol reward processing. Previous work from our research team, indicated that intravenous (IV) ghrelin administration, compared to placebo, results in an acute increase in alcohol craving during a cue-reactivity experiment in alcoholic individuals. Therefore, an oral bioavailable, ghrelin receptor antagonist that is able to pass through the blood brain barrier holds particular promise as a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD). This protocol is part of a grant project funded by National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) aimed to generate preliminary evidence in AUD on the safety and efficacy of a ghrelin receptor (GHSR1a) antagonist, PF-05190457, an existing molecule available under the NIH-Industry Pilot Program at NCATS. Completed preclinical and clinical (Protocol #14-AA-0042) work has demonstrated the safety of PF-05190457/alcohol interaction. The goal of this protocol is to conduct a proof-of-concept human laboratory study to assess an early-signal of efficacy of PF-05190457 in AUD.

Study population:

The study population will be AUD individuals (n = 55).

Study Design:

A within-subject, counterbalanced, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Outcome measures:

The primary aim will be to determine whether PF-05190457, compared to placebo, reduces alcohol cue-elicited craving. The main secondary aim will be to determine whether PF-05190457, compared to placebo, reduces brain blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response during exposure to alcohol cues, during a task-based fMRI scan. We will also investigate the effects of PF-05190457 on food craving as well as on food choices using a virtual buffet experimental procedure. All these outcomes will be assessed in the inpatient Unit at the NIH CC. After the inpatient portion of the protocol, patients will be followed-up as outpatients. During the outpatient phase, patients will be offered motivational interviewing and video feedback to explore the effects of this intervention, compared to supportive counseling, on maintaining motivation for alcohol abstinence and inform future studies where medications like PF-05190457 and behavioral treatments may be combined. The outpatient phase is optional for treatment seeking and nontreatment seeking participants.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 55 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Basic Science
Official Title: A Novel Compound for Alcoholism Treatment: a Translational Strategy - Part II
Actual Study Start Date : June 15, 2016
Estimated Primary Completion Date : December 31, 2019
Estimated Study Completion Date : December 31, 2019

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Active Drug
Ghrelin Receptor Inverse Agonist
Drug: PF-05190457
Ghrelin Receptor Inverse Agonist

Counseling support
Other: Counseling
Counselling Support

Motivational Interviewing with Video
Behavioral: MI-VF
Motivational Interviewing with Video

Other: Placebo

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. The primary aim will be to determine whether PF-05190457, compared to placebo, reduces alcohol cue-elicited craving. [ Time Frame: During CR procedure ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. To determine whether PF-05190457, compared to placebo, reduces brain blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response during exposure to alcohol cues [ Time Frame: During the approximately 2 hour task-based fMRI ]
  2. To determine whether PF-05190457, compared to placebo, reduces food choices in a virtual buffet conducted in a virtual reality context [ Time Frame: During the approximately 1 hour IVETU session ]

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 70 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
  • Male or female individuals 18-70 years old (inclusive)
  • Current Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) by DSM-5 criteria based on the SCID
  • Most recent urine drug test for illegal drugs of abuse is negative
  • Most recent Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol - revised (CIWA-Ar) score is less than or equal to 8
  • Heart rate less than or equal to 100 on two separate measurements, both assessed after CIWA-Ar score is less than or equal to 8
  • Female subjects must be of non childbearing potential as defined by at least one of the following criteria:

    a) Females 45-70 years old, who are menopausal, defined as follow:

    i) Females who are between 45-55 years old: they will be considered menopausal if they satisfy all the following three requirements during screening: 1) they are in amenorrhea, defined as absence of menstruation for the previous 12 months; 2) they have a negative urine pregnancy test; and 3) they have a serum FSH level within the laboratory s reference range for postmenopausal females.

ii) Females who are between 56-70 years old: they will be considered menopausal if they are in amenorrhea, defined as absence of menstruation for the previous 12 months before screening.


b) Females 21-70 years old, who have a documented hysterectomy and/or bilateral oophorectomy.

All other female subjects (including females with tubal ligations and females that do NOT have a documented hysterectomy) will be considered to be of childbearing potential.

  • Male subjects must use one of the following methods of contraception from the first dose of study medication and until 28 days after dosing (given that it is unknown whether the effects of this drug can cause birth defects):

    1. Abstinence.
    2. A condom AND one of the following:

      • Vasectomy for more than 6 months.
      • Female partner who meets one of the following conditions:

        1. Has had a tubal ligation, hysterectomy, or bilateral oophorectomy;
        2. Is post menopausal;
        3. Uses one of the following forms of contraception:

          Copper or hormonal containing IUD;

          Spermicidal foam/gel/film/cream/suppository;

          Diaphragm with spermicide;

          Oral contraceptive;

          Injectable progesterone;

          Subdermal implant.


  • Lifetime clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
  • EKG with QTc > 450 msec as determined by either the Bazett or Fridericia formulas using the QTc value that is the longest in duration.
  • BMI less than or equal to 18.5 kg/M(2) or anorexia
  • BMI greater than or equal to 40 kg/m(2)
  • History of epilepsy and/or seizures

NOTE: individuals who have a history of alcohol withdrawal seizures may be in the study as long as they have been abstinent from alcohol for at least 2 weeks prior to consent and during that period of abstinence, there were no seizure episodes (otherwise, participant remains not eligible).

  • Most recent blood tests show creatinine greater than or equal to 2 mg/dL, AST or ALT > 3 times the upper normal limit, hemoglobin <10.5 g/dl
  • Subjects who have diabetes and/or are treated with any drug with glucose lowering properties such as sulfonylurea, insulin, metformin, thiazolidinediones (TZD), Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) inhibitors, or Glucagon-like peptide-1(GLP-1)agonists (due to the glucose-lowering properties of PF-05190457 observed in healthy volunteers)
  • Exclusionary Medications:

    --A. Naltrexone, acamprosate, alcohol dehydrogenase inhibitors, topiramate, gabapentin, ondansetron, benzodiazepines, baclofen, drugs that are known to prolong the QTc interval and barbiturates as well as hormone replacement therapy; medications and dietary/herbal supplements (like St. John's wort) that interact with Cytochrome P450 3A4. Patients who take these medications may be enrolled in the study only if the potentially interacting medication has been stopped for a period of at least 5 half-lives of the interacting medication before PF-05190457 administration.

  • Unable to pass a finger rub hearing test
  • Vision is unable to be corrected to (Snellen) 20/100
  • Clinically-significant history of motion or car sickness, or history of vestibular disorders
  • Any other reason or clinical condition for which the PI or the MAI will consider unsafe for a possible participant to participate in this study


  • Have contraindications for brain fMRI, as determined by the NIAAA MRI Safety screening form (conducted under the 14-AA-0181 Screening Protocol)
  • Colorblindness (this would prevent subject from completing the Stroop task) using the Ishihara Test for Color Deficiency, Concise Edition, 2014.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT02707055

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Contact: Lisa A Farinelli, R.N. (301) 496-0836
Contact: Lorenzo Leggio, M.D. (301) 435-9398

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United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike Recruiting
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Contact: For more information at the NIH Clinical Center contact Office of Patient Recruitment (OPR)    800-411-1222 ext TTY8664111010   
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
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Principal Investigator: Lorenzo Leggio, M.D. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Additional Information:
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Responsible Party: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Identifier: NCT02707055     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 160080
First Posted: March 14, 2016    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: May 13, 2019
Last Verified: May 6, 2019

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: Yes
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) ):
Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol Treatment
Ghrelin Antagonism

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Alcohol-Related Disorders
Substance-Related Disorders
Chemically-Induced Disorders
Mental Disorders