A new study has found that targeting
a protein might allow treatment of alcoholism
and simultaneously prevent alcohol-induced heart
and liver damage.
The protein called RGS6 acts through two separate mechanisms to control
alcohol-seeking behaviour and alcohol-induced cell death in heart, liver, and
other organs, the findings showed.
Lead researcher Rory Fisher from the
University of Iowa in the US said, "We propose that inhibiting
this RGS6 protein could represent a new approach to counteract alcohol
dependence and at the same time protect against the cell-killing actions of
alcohol in the heart and liver."
There are only a few drugs that
purport to treat alcohol dependence and none that treat the damaging effects
alcohol has on various organs. The study recommends that targeting the actions
of RGS6 might accomplish both aims.
The scientists used mice lacking RGS6 to probe the protein's roles in both
alcohol craving and organ damage.
They found that when given free access to alcohol, mice without the RGS6
protein consumed less alcohol than wild-type mice with the concerned protein.
The study appeared online in the journal Early Edition of the
Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences (PNAS).