Washington: In a new study, researchers have found new links between a protein that controls our urge to eat and brain cells involved in the development of alcoholism. The discovery points to new possibilities for designing drugs to treat alcoholism and other addictions.The new study by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute focuses on the peptide ghrelin, which is known to stimulate eating.“This is the first study to characterize the effects of ghrelin on neurons in a brain region called the central nucleus of the amygdala,” study leader Marisa Roberto said.“There is increasing evidence that the peptide systems regulating food consumption are also critical players in excessive alcohol consumption. These peptide systems have the potential to serve as targets for new therapies aimed at treating alcoholism,” Roberto said.The brain region known as the central nucleus of the amygdala is thought to be a key region in the transition to alcohol dependence, that is, a biological change from experiencing a pleasant sensation upon the consumption of alcohol to the need to consume alcohol to relieve unpleasant, negative feelings due to the lack of its consumption. In animals addicted to alcohol, the central nucleus of the amygdala controls increased consumption.
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