Washington: Researchers have discovered a gene that regulates alcohol consumption and when faulty can cause excessive drinking. They have also identified the mechanism underlying this phenomenon.
The study showed that normal mice show no interest in alcohol and drink little or no alcohol when offered a free choice between a bottle of water and a bottle of diluted alcohol.
However, mice with a genetic mutation to the gene Gabrb1 overwhelmingly preferred drinking alcohol over water, choosing to consume almost 85 percent of their daily fluid as drinks containing alcohol.
The study was conducted by researchers from five UK universities - Imperial College London, Newcastle University, Sussex University, University College London and University of Dundee.
"We are continuing our work to establish whether the gene has a similar influence in humans, though we know that in people alcoholism is much more complicated as environmental factors come into play. But there is the real potential for this to guide development of better treatments for alcoholism in the future," Dr Quentin Anstee, Consultant Hepatologist at Newcastle University, said.
The study is published in journal Nature Communications.