Researchers have uncovered a breakthrough in the study of alcoholism.
Researchers have discovered that excessive drinking is caused by a gene mutation. The study, conducted by five British universities and published in the journal Nature Communications, confirmed that the gene Gabrb1 regulates alcohol consumption, but can also lead to a drinking problem when it is mutated or faulty.
Normal mice in the study showed a preference for a bottle of water over a bottle of diluted alcohol, but those with the mutated gene consumed the alcohol as 85% of their daily intake.
Scientists Predict Positive Scientific Treatments
“It’s amazing to think that a small change in the code for just one gene can have such profound effects on complex behaviors like alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Quentin Anstee, consultant hepatologist at Newcastle University and joint lead author.
The research also showed that the mice drank the alcohol voluntarily, consuming enough wine within a one-hour period to become intoxicated and have difficulty moving. Some even willingly worked for their alcohol during this period by pulling a lever to obtain it.
Although more research has to be done to determine if the gene has the same impact on humans, this could potentially have a major impact in the treatment of alcohol abuse.
“There’s still a great deal we don’t understand about how and why consumption progresses into addiction, but the results of this long-running project suggest that, in some individuals, there may be a genetic component,” said Prof. Hugh Perry. “If further research confirms that a similar mechanism is present in humans, it could help us to identify those most at risk of developing an addiction and ensure they receive the most effective treatment.”
With all this new research coming out about where and how alcoholism develops and is really centered there should be new advances in the treatment of alcoholism coming soon. If anything, this new research backs up the idea that alcoholism is partially genetic but that it is not the only underlying factor or cause of it.
And don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you’re a mutant. It just means you have a few things different in your brain that happen to cause you to drink more. Although, if it made us like X-Men we probably wouldn’t mind have mutated genes.