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Brain Protein Linked to Binge Drinking

Brain Protein Linked to Binge Drinking

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal examined binge drinking at the molecular level and determined that a compound targeting specific brain protein channels could help treat binge drinking.   


Biologist Dr. Candice Contet and her team wanted to “identify the role of a member of the ‘G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium channel’ (GIRK) family in the behavioral and cellular responses to alcohol” (Lavitt, 2015). The researchers focused on the GIRK3 subunit—one that has been known to modulate the effects of other drugs, including the date rape drug and cocaine—and tested how it influenced mouse behavior in relation to alcohol. Dr. Contet and colleagues found that the mice lacking GIRK3 drank more alcohol because they felt “less pleasure and therefore need to drink more to reach the same level of pleasure as normal mice” (Lavitt, 2015). 


The study concluded that a treatment focusing specifically on GIRK3-containing channels could be effective in reducing alcohol consumption for people who binge drink. 


Lavitt, J. (2015). Scripps Research Institute study links brain protein to binge drinking. Retrieved from http://www.thefix.com/content/scripps-research-institute-study-links-brain-protein-binge-drinking