Millions of people have problems with alcohol abuse all over the world and they don’t know that virus can help fight alcoholism. Drinking alcohol in a long term could harm liver, stomach, bones, cardiovascular system and mostly brain. Alcohol use disorder it is the result of chronic heavy alcohol drinking. It is a big problem not only for alcoholic but also for his family and whole society. It is so hard to quit drinking alcohol. It has big influence on brain so to make a decision to stop drinking it is a big challenge for alcoholic. Every day he needs to get some alcohol drink because it is necessary for him to feel better.
Texas A&M University Health Science Centre found that alcohol changes information in the brain. As a result brain craves more alcohol. In the end the more you drink, the more you want it. Scientists found out how to mitigate changes in brain. They can reduce the desire to drink with help of genetically engineered virus.
Is it possible that virus can help fight alcoholism?
Alcohol abuse is a chronic brain disease with abnormal connections between neurons. Striatum it is a part of brain where experts found the biggest number of changes that appeared as a result of drinking addiction. This part of our brain is responded for what we see, what we hear and also sends order to control motivations and behavior. It is located in forebrain. It is responsible for addiction drugs or alcohol, too.
If somebody drinks alcohol too much or use drugs it can increase the level of dopamine in his body. Dopamine responds for pleasure and motivation and neurons in the striatum have higher densities of its receptors then in other neurons in our brain. Neurons from striatum are easier to change in dopamine levels. There are two types of neurons which encourage behavior in striatum: D1 and D2. They have opposite functions. D1 controls behavior in way of “go” and D2 control “no-go” actions. They are like green and red light in traffic lights. In alcohol addiction green light is constantly switched on. Red light doesn’t light up at all and you can’t stop drinking. And because of that you need more and more alcohol.
Scientists made an experiment with modification of both neurons in striatum. They used a process called viral mediated gene transfer. They manipulated “go” and “no-go” neurons in mice brain. Mice were infected with a genetically engineered virus. It delivers a gene into neurons, which drives them to express a kind of protein. After that the mice were injected with a chemical that recognizes and binds to proteins. This way scientist can inhibit or promote activity in those two neurons – simply change the green light to red light. After this they found out that this experiment let them find the way to reduce successfully alcohol drinking levels. Also they found out that if we put directly a medication that will excite the red light in the brain, we can reduce alcohol consumption as well. This way they can help to find a clinical treatment for alcoholism.
Using a virus to treat alcoholism in humans still a long way off but now we have medications such as Naltrexone, to help people stop drinking can be effective.