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Scientists try new laser treatments to reverse the need for alcohol.

An image of alcohol to illustrate alcohol cravings
© iStock / urbazon

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have been able to change the desire of alcohol craving mice using laser therapy.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 15.1 million adults in the United States suffer from alcohol abuse. The Scripps Research Institute in California has previously shown that the transition from casual drinking to dependent drinking is accompanied by fundamental changes in the brain signal. Brain signals cause intense alcohol needs, making it difficult for some people to control drinking.

Do CRF neurons cause an alcohol need?

The researchers tested the role of a subset of neurons called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) neurons in an alcohol-intoxicated mouse model. The researchers account for 80% of CRF neurons and studied it using optogenetics.

Inverted alcohol craving

Rats participating in the study transplanted optic nerve fibers surgically to light and inactivate CRF neurons.

To do this, scientists set a baseline for the amount of drinking before a rat becomes addicted to alcohol. It's like a glass of wine or a beer for humans. They then increased the consumption of rats for several months to induce alcohol dependence.

When they withdrew alcohol, it caused the withdrawal of mice. When they offered rats again to the rats, they drank more than before.

However, when scientists switched on the laser and deactivated the CRF neurons, the mice returned to alcohol-dependent drinking levels. That means the need to drink alcohol has disappeared. They also found a reduction in physical withdrawal symptoms such as trembling.

Dr. Giordano de Guglielmo, research and staff scientist at Scripps Research, explains: "In these various studies we have been able to characterize, manipulate and manipulate important parts of nerve cells that cause excessive drinking."

Neural mechanisms of alcohol consumption

"This is interesting," says Olivier George, an associate professor at Scripps Research and a lead author of a new study. "It means there's another piece that can explain the neural mechanisms that drive alcohol consumption."

The study was published in a journal. Natural communication.

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