Study Shows Drug Decreases Alcohol Cravings
"Rapamycin, an FDA-approved drug prescribed to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, has been shown for the first time to decrease excessive alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and alcohol-seeking behavior in rodents. The finding is in a study by researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
The study, led by Dorit Ron, a Gallo Center researcher and a professor of neurology at UCSF, appears in the online Early Edition section of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study demonstrated, also for the first time, that alcohol consumption in rodents activates a key signaling pathway in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region that in both rodents and humans is part of the reward system that affects craving for alcohol and other addictive substances.
In the brain, that signaling pathway - a complex of proteins called the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1, or mTORC1 — plays a significant role in learning and memory. "This makes sense," says Ron, "since addiction is a maladaptive form of learning and memory." She says that the mTORC1 pathway has been well-studied in other areas of the body, such as the immune system, "but has not been explored that much in the brain.""