A new study using mice shows why binge drinking can lead to alcoholism, and the culprit may be an enzyme that is malfunctioning. Research scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine performed a mouse study and the results show that the malfunctioning enzyme may be the cause of alcoholism, and binge drinking greatly increases the odds of this condition. Until now the enzyme, ALDH1a, was not known to perform a specific function in the mice. It is hoped that this scientific discovery van help lead to medication development for medications which can eliminate the desire or urgent need of the individual to consume alcohol. There are some drugs that are used today which can help lessen the odds of the individual drinking, but often these medications provide mixed results.
Senior study author and assistant professor of neurosurgery at the university, Jun Ding, Ph.D., explained that the current medications are not always effective. “But these drugs don’t reduce the craving — you still feel a strong urge to drink.” When researchers noticed two neurotransmitters instead of one Ding said “We wondered what GABA is doing in there. Why does one nerve cell need two neurotransmitters?” Ding also talked about another question that researchers had during the study. “All of us normally encounter countless reward-inducing situations without getting addicted. Every time I publish a paper, my dopamine-producing nerve cells go crazy, but I don’t get addicted. Why not?” More research may be needed before new medications can be developed which actually take away the urge to drink, but this study is a good start.