Cancer drugs could help alcoholics.
Flies respond to drink in a similar way as humans--initially hyperactive and then uncoordinated--eventually falling over and being unable to right themselves. Heberlein's team found a gene, now called happyhour, that makes fruit flies sensitive to alcohol. It appears to do this by damping down the activity of a cellular network called the epidermal growth factor (EGF) pathway.
The EGF pathway is also implicated in cancer, which suggests that anticancer drugs that interfere with this pathway might increase alcohol sensitivity and make alcohol less appealing. The team found that when they gave the drugs erlotinib and gefitinib to flies, they were more likely to be knocked out by alcohol. Rats also chose to drink less alcohol after taking erlotinib.
If these drugs also lower alcohol tolerance in people they could be used to treat alcoholism--hopefully at lower doses than those used in cancer treatment.
New Scientist 2009; 30 May
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|Title Annotation:||Single Suture|
|Publication:||CME: Your SA Journal of CPD|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2009|
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