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Why do hamsters stay on the wagon?

Naturally derived from kudzu vines and part of a Chinese herbal treatment reputed to prevent alcoholism, the chemical daidzin may prove a poent drug to combat alcohol abuse. In 1993, Bert L. Vallee and Wing-Ming Keung of Harvard Medical School in Boston reported that injections of daidzin reduce alcohol consumption in hamsters that naturally guzzle the intoxicating beverage (SN: 11/13/93, p.319).

Vallee and Keung also showed that daidzin inhibits an enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde, a natural metabolite of ingested alcohol. As a result, many researchers thought the chemical worked like disulfiram (sold as Antabuse), one of only two drugs approved in the United States to treat alcohol abuse. Disulfiram inhibits the same enzyme as daidzin: When someone taking disulfiram drinks alcohol, he or she becomes nauseous as acetaldehyde builds up in the body.

But Vallee, Keung, and two other colleagues at Harvard now observe that daidzin must work by a different pathway than disulfiram. At doses that curb alcohol drinking by hamsters, daidzin does not affect the metabolism of acetaldehyde, they report in the Sept. 12 PNAS. "It has been assumed, without further proof, that this would be the mechanism of the drug. But you don't get any accumulation [of acetaldehyde]," says Vallee.
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Title Annotation:Biology; daidzin and disulfiram appear to work by different pathways to treat alcohol abuse
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 23, 1995
Words:207
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"AN ARGUMENT THAT GOES BACK TO THE WOMB": THE DEMEDICALIZATION OF FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME, 1973-1992.
AFTER THE CRASH.

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