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Cure for alcoholism could be close after brain protein discovery

Press Trust of India  |  Houston 

A protein in the brain linked to a person's tolerance could be the key to curing alcoholism, according to a study Indian-American

The protein called MUNC 13-1 plays a pivotal role in the development of tolerance to alcoholism, of Pharmacy said in eNeuro, the journal of the Society for

"Addiction to remains one of the most significant mental health problems throughout the world. A major challenge is to understand how ethanol, or alcohol, changes behavior and the brain during the descent into addiction," Das said.

"If a person becomes tolerant of one drink, he will have another and maybe another. If we could stop from binding into MUNC 13-1 it will help problem drinkers in reducing tolerance. If we can reduce tolerance we can reduce addiction," said Das whose study focuses on binge alcohol exposure.

The process of MUNC 13-1 binding to alcohol takes place in a brain synapse, where one nerve cell, or neuron, passes a signal to another. Specifically, the binding takes place in the presynaptic space, a much understudied portion of the synapse mechanism.

During binge alcohol exposure, alcohol creates widespread and long-lasting changes in neural activity, altering both presynaptic and postsynaptic activity, according to a press release.

Thus far the work has been done using the Drosophila genetic model system, which offers a simple model, Their activating protein is called Dunc13, the equivalent to MUNC 13-1.

"Reduction in Dunc13 produces a behavioral and physiological resistance to sedative effects of ethanol, said Das. That makes MUNC 13-1 an important target for developing drugs.

"We need to develop a pill that would inhibit alcohol binding to MUNC 13 and reduce its activity. Based on our results so far, this would likely reduce the formation of tolerance, making it harder to become addicted to alcohol," said Das.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 17:00 IST
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