Binge drinking? Blame it on your genes

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - Two genes that seem to trigger binge drinking have been identified, potentially paving the way to better treatments for excessive alcohol consumption.

Researchers found that manipulating two brain receptors, GABA receptor and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), “caused profound reduction” of binge drinking for two weeks in rodents that had been engineered to drink excessively.

The study found that treatments that manipulate both the GABA receptor and toll-like receptor 4 have the potential to reduce anxiety and control craving, with little to no risk for addiction, says lead investigator Harry June, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

“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 June, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

About 30 percent of Americans drink 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 craving. To ease withdrawal symptoms, doctors often prescribe medications such as Valium and Librium, which reduce the anxiety alcoholics feel when they stop drinking but do not reduce the cravings. Both drugs also carry their own risks of addiction.

Filed under: Medicine, World

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