Scientists have cured rats of alcohol addiction

Scientists at Scripps Research reported that they have successfully eliminated alcohol craving in rats. They used lasers to temporarily deactivate a specific population of neurons in the rodents’ brains.

Although laser beam treatment is not yet ready to be used in humans, researchers say that identifying those responsible for the mainód alcoholic neuronów opens the way to developing effective therapies for treating alcohol addiction.

According to data from the World Health Organization last year, nearly 300 millionóin waspsób around the world are addicted to alcohol. In Poland, it is roughly 600-800,000 osób. The overwhelming majority of addicts are men.

Earlier studies by scientistsów with Scripps Research showed that switching from drinking „plain” to dependent correlates with fundamental changes in the way signals are sentóin by mózg. These signals drive intense cravings, whichóre make it difficult for many people to reduce their alcohol consumption.

– This exciting discovery. Means we know another piece of the puzzle explaining the neuronal mechanism driving alcohol consumption – said Dr. Olivier George, coóĹ‚autor of a new study, whichóre appeared in the journal „Nature Communications”.

George and his colleagues had been hunting for years for comórki mózg neurons that drive alcohol drinking in addicted ratsów. In 2016, they reported that they had found a suspect – a group of interconnected comórek in the m areaóThe brain called the amygdala. This discovery marked a significant advance in mapping the mózgu.

As part of the new study, the scientists tested the role of a subset of neuronów that produce CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor). The researchers noticed that CRF neurons make up 80 percent of the group of previously mentioned comórek.

Scientists studied these neurons using optogenetics, a technique that involves using light to control the activity of comórek in living tissue. The rats, whichóre took part in the study were surgically implanted with an IPAófiber optic cables, whichóThe goal was to treat neurons with lightóIn CRF – to deactivate them at the flick of a switch.

However, before being implanted in mózgi light rodents, the researchers tested for alcohol dependence in them. The rodents were given alcohol – the equivalent of a glass of wine or one beer for humans – for some time. The amount of alcohol was gradually increased and then withdrawn from the diet of rats altogetherów triggering withdrawal symptoms.When they offered alcohol to the rats again, the rodents drank more than ever.

The researchers then used optogenetics to deactivate CRF neurons. The results were surprising. The rats immediately wróThey were able to return the rats to the level of alcohol consumption before the addiction. The intense motivation to drink was gone. Deactivation of these neuronsów róIt also reduced physical withdrawal symptoms, such as abnormal chód and tremor.

– In this study, we were able to characterize, target and manipulate a critical subset of neuronalów responsible for excessive alcohol consumption – said Dr. Giordano de Guglielmo, head of theóthe study’s lead author. The effect was reversible. When researchers stopped affecting CRF neurons with lasers, rats returnedóTough to his behavior indicative of addiction.

As the study authors acknowledge, this is a major breakthrough. Successfully identified the corresponding neurons, whichóre drive specific, destructive behavior. Researchers now want to transfer research from ratsóin humans and hope to get similar results. As Dr. George stated, they will have to find a wayób selective inhibition of only those specific neuronóat CRF.

– Our future efforts require the use of cutting-edge technology, whichóre have not yet been approved for use in humans, so it may take 15–30 years before we see an alcoholiców with m implantsóThe spiders have a number of different jumping techniquesóre help them control their addiction,” said George.