Thursday, January 18, 2007

Alcoholic Mice Hold Clue to Sobriety

news you may not know

My Apologies

To The Rats...

It's an image carved into our collective consciousness. James Cagney, larger than life on the silver screen, sneering and twitching with disdain. Then, as his eyes narrow and the corners of his mouth tighten, he delivers the line that sums up the national disdain felt toward all members of the rodent family, "You dirty rat!"

Though not an accurate quote - in the 1932 movie Taxi, Cagney actually says, "Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door!" - it still sums up the overwhelming national dislike of rats. But, with all rats contribute to the common good, are they receiving a bad rap? Hmm... that would make it a bad rat-rap?

Scientists from Australia recently reported on studies, using the aforementioned rats, into the underlying cravings for alcohol. They report the production of the hormone Orexin within the brain's hypothalamus may be the key. Orexin, initially found to be involved in the regulation of food intake, appears to play a critical role in producing the euphoric effect experienced following the use of alcohol and illicit drugs.

In the study a group of rats - rodents, not men - were intentionally addicted to alcohol. They were then treated with a drug that blocks the effects of Orexin and the results were quite dramatic. One group of rats that had alcohol readily available to them simply chose not to imbibe. A second group, who had undergone a detox program, did not relapse into alcoholism when reintroduced into an environment associated with alcohol use.

Further studies are planned, pending approval for longer inpatient stays by the rats' HMO.

The researchers anticipate the same approach may ultimately be utilized with eating disorders and obesity.

To further their cause, scientists at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute are soliciting suggestions for phrases that cast the reputation-challenged rats in a more favorable light. The leading entries so far are, "Rats Rule!' and, "Rats - not as big and ugly as you think." Visit the Florey Institute website for entry details.

To read more about this and other ongoing research, visit the Howard Florey Institute.


Blogger Devon Ellington said...

Doesn't a craving for sugar also contribute to the craving for alcohol? Because of its sugar content (especially in hard liquor). Are there any studies about that?

Ink in My Coffee

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Tim, so let me see if I get this right.

Someday, men (not just rats) can be given a drug to help them stop drinking.

Hmmm...they will also take a drug to help them NOT take drugs.

The world is a very interesting place...

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach

9:55 AM  

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