Saturday, November 3, 2018

Alcohol Working in Your Brain: New Target Path Discovered

     When alcohol enters the brain, it causes neurons in a specialized region called the ventral tegmental area, or VTA -- also known as the "pleasure center" -- to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces those feel-good sensations, and tells the brain that whatever it just experienced is worth getting more of.  Scientists have long sought the first step in the molecular pathway by which alcohol causes neurons in the VTA to release dopamine.   Now, researchers in the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago report in the journal Neuropharmacology, that alcohol blocks a potassium channel called KCNK13 that sits within the membrane of dopamine-releasing neurons in the VTA. When the potassium channel gets blocked, the neurons increase their activity and release more dopamine.

     "Currently available drugs reduce the impact of alcohol on the brain that is akin to turning down the volume on a stereo," he said.   Brodie and his colleagues will continue to investigate the role of KCNK13 and examine how selective manipulation of the channel in other brain areas and cell types might alter alcohol-related behaviors.

     "We are the first to show that KCNK13 is a primary, direct target of alcohol and that this channel is important for regulating alcohol consumption. KCNK13 represents a novel target for the development of alcohol use disorder drugs, of which we have relatively few today," Brodie said.

     What they are saying is they want you to spend more money on drugs that kill your buzz.  Let’s look at it another way, you buy expensive drugs, then, you can buy more booze to get the same buzz you were getting for less than half the price if you could just learn to be a responsible drinker and exercise a little self-control.   Don’t get me wrong, this is very interesting research, but if you are going to drink, it is to get a buzz.  Why would you use a drug that kills it.