The researchers at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in the United States have identified a gene that could help in developing new drugs to prevent and treat alcoholism and mood disorders in people, Business Standard has reported.
The researchers, in their study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, found a link between alcohol and how it modulates the activity level of a particular gene. They found that when they increased the levels of the gene-encoded protein in mice, alcohol consumption in them was reduced by almost 50 per cent without affecting their well being or the total amount of fluid consumed.
According to the report, the scientists modified the levels of the protein encoded by a single gene - GPR39 - which is a zinc-binding receptor that was previously associated with depression.
The chances of co-occurrence of mood and alcohol use disorders are high, with individuals with alcohol use disorder being 3.7 time more likely to have major depression compared to those who do not engage in alcohol abuse.
"The study highlights the importance of using cross-species approaches to identify and test relevant drugs for the treatment of alcohol use disorder," Rita Cervera-Juanes, a research assistant professor at OHSU was quoted in the report as saying.
The researchers are now examining tissue samples from the brain of the people that suffered from alcoholism to determine whether the same mechanism affects them.
They said that the findings of the test may point the way towards developing a drug that both prevents and treats chronic alcoholism and mood disorders in people.