Breakthrough Treatment Reduces Alcoholic Monkeys’ Drinking by 50% | Science and technology news


Scientists have developed a treatment that reduces drinking by 50% in alcoholic vervet monkeys, potentially offering a solution for people with drinking problems.

Vervet monkeys are a key species for researchers due to several similar traits, including an occasional fondness for alcohol — they’ve even been known to steal drinks from customers in bars.

New research has found that an analogue of a liver-supplied hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) successfully suppresses drinking in vervet monkeys and mice.

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“Mammals began consuming alcohol from fermented fruits long before humans developed methods of producing alcohol through distillation,” the researchers report in the journal cellular metabolism.

“Given the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption on health and survival, it is not surprising that numerous physiological systems have evolved to detect and regulate alcohol consumption in mammals.”

Scientists from the University of Iowa and the University of Copenhagen have developed a new method to therapeutically target the neural pathways that help how mammals regulate their alcohol consumption.

“The vervet monkey money population consists of alcohol avoiders, moderate alcohol drinkers, and a heavy drinker group.

“The heavy drinkers will consume alcohol to intoxication whenever possible, offering a preclinical model of alcohol consumption that may more accurately reflect aspects of harmful drinking in humans,” the researchers explained.

Twenty male vervet monkeys with this innate alcohol preference were allowed access to alcohol for four hours a day for four days to assess their basal drinking behavior.

Once this was established, they were divided into two groups, one receiving a placebo and the other receiving the new FGF21 analogue.

The monkeys receiving the therapeutic treatment drank 50% less than when they started, suggesting that it “can strongly suppress alcohol consumption.”

dr Kyle Flippo of the University of Iowa said: “Our findings provide a mechanism for a liver-to-brain endocrine feedback loop that is thought to serve to protect the liver from damage.

“The central molecular and cellular effects of FGF21 represent an opportunity for future research, and the present data suggest that FGF21 analogs may represent a potential treatment option for alcohol use disorder and associated diagnosis,” added Dr. Added Flippo.

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