Scientists stunned by discovery about alcohol

Scientists stunned by discovery about alcohol

A major new discovery about human genes could totally change how we understand how alcohol affects our personality.

A new study is making the bold claim that there may be a very good reason why people tend to get addicted to alcohol, while others are totally uninterested in having a drink. Scientists think they’ve identified a gene called beta-Klotho that appears to act as a brake on booze consumption, as mice without this gene tended to enjoy alcohol a lot more and chose to drink more of it than normal mice.

The scientists examined the records of more than 100,000 people of European descent and found people with one version of beta-Klotho that appeared to drink a lot less than most others. A total of 42 percent of the people examined had the version of the gene that limited drinking, according to a King’s College London.

It’s a big finding that could lead to better treatments for alcoholism. Currently, there’s no drug available for people with a desire to drink a lot of booze to suppress that feeling.

Professor Gunter Schumann from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, said: ‘Our study reveals a previously unrecognised liver-brain pathway which regulates alcohol consumption in humans, and which could one day be targeted therapeutically to suppress consumption in problem drinkers.

‘The results point towards an intriguing feedback loop, where FGF21 is produced in the liver in response to sugar and alcohol intake, which then acts directly on the brain to limit consumption.’

Professor Schumann added: ‘We cannot rule out the possibility that beta-Klotho acts by affecting neighbouring genes, so further genetic studies are warranted. It will also be important to explore these findings in more severe forms of alcohol drinking, as we only examined non-addictive consumption.’

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