University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have identified two genes associated with binge drinking that may open doors to new, more effective treatments for excessive alcohol drinking. The scientists found that manipulating two receptors in the brain, GABA receptors and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), "caused profound reduction" of binge drinking for two weeks in rodents that had been bred and trained to drink excessively. The study was published online the week of Feb. 28 in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
About 30 percent of Americans who drink do so excessively, and about 75,000 people die each year from the effects of excessive drinking. Current treatments for excessive alcohol drinking include prescription drugs Revia and Campral for controlling cravings. To ease withdrawal symptoms, doctors often prescribe medications such as Valium and Librium that carry their own risks of addiction. Valium and Librium reduce the anxiety alcoholics feel when they stop drinking but do not reduce cravings for alcohol.
The new study found that treatments that manipulate both the GABA receptor and toll-like receptor 4 have the potential to reduce anxiety and control cravings, with little to no risk for addiction, according to lead investigator Harry June, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The study was funded in part by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
"Binge drinking defined as achieving a blood-alcohol content of .08 g percent, the legal limit in many states, in a two-hour period is a serious form of excessive drinking," says Dr. June. "This is the kind of drinking we see with college students on spring break, and even some adults. It doesn't meet the classic definition of alcoholism, characterized by dependence and a long period of drin
|Contact: Karen Robinson|
University of Maryland Medical Center