Scientific discovery may provide answers for binge drinking and alcoholism

By Kate Hassett

Scientific discovery may provide answers for binge drinking and alcoholism
Scientific research has produced results revealing a protein in the brain that may help find a cure for alcoholism and assist in the breaking down of binge drinking culture.

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine into binge drinking and alcoholism, has found a protein in the brain that may aid in the hindrance of the disease and the treatment of bingeing.

The results showed how a compound in the brain, Neuropeptide Y, can suppress the behaviour associated with bingeing and alcoholism.

Assistant professor Thomas Kash, who works in the departments of pharmacology and psychology, said “specifically, we found that NPY acted in a part of the brain known as the extended amygdala, or bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, that we know is linked to both stress and reward.”

This protein, when engineered by the scientists and applied to the test subjects, was able to suppress binge alcohol consumption in mice.

The doctor’s findings allowed for an identification of the NPY strain as being compromised during early binge drinking prior to becoming dependent.

This meant that whilst the protein may not be “useful for treating alcohol use disorders” states Kash, “it may protect some individuals from becoming alcohol dependent.”

The study expands previous research that identified other proteins in the brain, which influenced the craving for alcohol consumption.

Research into this area is increasingly important with binge drinking culture consistently problematic and costly to families and society.


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