Recent findings in the scientific community bring good news to those seeking alcohol rehab in Winnipeg. According to recent research, scientists have found a way to completely remove the urge to drink. With a bit more research, the scientists hope that they will contribute to finding a solution to alcoholism.
According to the study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, a particular subset of neurons located in the amygdala – the central nucleus, to be specific – have been found to become activated by frequent alcohol use. The more an individual drinks, the more these neurons are activated and the circuit reinforced, thus driving alcohol use and eventual addiction.
With this finding, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute aimed to see if these neurons could be controlled. They designed a study using rats as their subjects, in which the alcohol-activated neurons express a specific protein, which they labeled. This gave the researchers the unique ability to observe and determine how these neurons behaved. Once they identified the alcohol-activated neurons, the researchers injected a compound that would inactivate the central nucleus of the amygdala only – and it worked incredibly well.
After the compound was injected, the rats completely stopped drinking alcohol compulsively. And the results were long-term; they lasted for the duration of the study during which the rats were monitored. The rats, however, still searched out sugar water, illustrating that the entire reward system of the brain had not been deactivated. Further, the rats did not experience any observable alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking.
The research team also found that deactivating the neurons did not have an impact on casual or nondependent drinking; it only ceased the addictive drinking.
Following the success of their initial study, the Scripps Research Institute team was tasked with determining how the alcohol-activated neurological circuits form over time, and to determine if this finding is applicable to humans. According to Olivier George, one of the lead researchers, they are already advancing at an alarming rate.
“We are now able to reversibly control these neurons with a laser using optogenetics. We can turn on and off drinking that way. We are also trying to find molecular targets in these neurons that could be targeted for medication development,” said George.
Moreover, the team is exploring the possibility of using their findings for other addictions, such as nicotine and methamphetamine dependence. And his plans do not stop there. If he had unlimited access to technology and funding, George said:
“I would laser capture these neurons and measure protein levels to identify the proteins that could be targeted using small molecules to develop a new compound that would produce the same effect without needing invasive pharmacogenetic techniques (including brain surgery, gene therapy, and brain implants). All the techniques are available, it is just a question of money at that point.”
With this groundbreaking new research, the end to alcoholism is in sight – with a permanent solution.