Researchers have found the pathway that affects alcohol cravings, and are looking for a way to shut it down
You know on Friday mornings when you're all like, "NEVER AGAIN," as in, never again will you touch a drop of alcohol? And then you go and do it again that night. Well, researchers might be able to completely erase the memory (notably, the positive associations) you have with booze.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have reportedly discovered the pathway that triggers alcohol cravings in rats, finding a way to identify and deactivate that specific pathway that linked memories together that cause alcohol cravings in rats. That pathway is controled by an enzyme "known as mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)."
The researchers hope that this could lead to a treatment option for those who suffer from alcohol abuse and other addictions.
Cravings are often induced by certain cues, lead author Segev Barak told UCSF. So going into a bar, smelling, or tasting alcohol can lead to those cravigns. "We learned that when rats were exposed to the smell or taste of alcohol, there was a small window of opportunity to target the area of the brain that reconsolidates the memory of the craving for alcohol and to weaken or even erase the memory, and thus the craving," Barak said.
So the researchers went about looking for ways to prevent the memory of alcohol from turning into a craving, interrupting the cue. They found that you could inhibit mTORC1 by using a drug called rapamycin, finding that by administering the rapamycin immediately after the cue (smell or taste of alcohol), the rats did not seek alcohol the next day. In fact, they did not seek it for up to 14 days, the researchers found.
Eventually, the researchers hope to discover a way to apply this research to humans, as a way to prevent alcohol disorders and perhaps other addictions as well.