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article imageTreating alcoholism by blocking memories

By Tim Sandle     Jun 30, 2013 in Health
Is it possible to treat alcoholism by blocking memories? New research on rats suggests that this might be possible through drug treatment.
A new science report indicates that targeting a molecular pathway involved with learning and memory helps rats which have been bred with an addiction to alcohol reduce their desire to taste certain chemicals.
Scientists found that by using the drug rapamycin to target the brain pathways associated with learning and memory, then the tendency for an alcoholic relapse in rats that had developed a preference for alcohol could be significantly reduced. To create the desire for alcohol in a group of rats, the rats were exposed to a mixture of water and 20 percent alcohol for 7 weeks. The alcohol was then taken away for 10 days.
After this, one group of rats was given rapamycin, and another group was left untreated. Each animal was then given a tiny drop of the alcoholic mixture. What the researchers found was that rats subsequently treated with rapamycin displayed a significant reduction in pressing a lever to receive more alcohol compared to untreated alcoholic rats.
Commenting on the research, Charles O’Brien, director of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, told the science site Nature that: "Fundamentally, addiction is a memory, and [the authors] are going straight at what is actually going on in the brain."
The implications of the research are that relapses in recovering alcoholics could be prevented by blocking the memories associated with the pleasurable effects of drinking.
The research was carried out by neuroscientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The findings have been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The paper is titled "Disruption of alcohol-related memories by mTORC1 inhibition prevents relapse."
More about Alcoholism, Memory, Drugs, Hypnosis, rapamycin
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