A simple jab could stop cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and junk food, say scientists.

UK researchers are launching a study to discover whether hormones found in the gut could help us fight our addictions, and stop those who have given up smoking or drinking or who are trying to lose weight from relapsing.

It follows research that found those who are overweight experience food cravings similar to those for nicotine, alcohol or drugs.

Scientists from Imperial College London believe using the hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 and ghrelin, which have been proved to stave off hunger pangs, they may be able to control the parts of the brain linked to addiction and stress.


They are calling for 90 volunteers - 30 overweight, 30 ex-drinkers and 30 ex-smokers - to help them discover if the six-hour infusion, similar to a drip, could stop bad habits.

Participants' brains will be scanned to see how they react to pictures of junk food, cigarettes and alcohol, as well as images of stressful situations, such as someone holding a gun, to help understand how the hormone might reduce stress levels.

If the study is successful, a jab version could be available within the next five years.

"In the longer term it would be an injection like a diabetic has," said lead researcher Dr Tony Goldstone.

"If it is successful, the drugs are already available to be used."