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Injecting a Gene Into Monkeys’ Brains Curbed Their Alcohol Use

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When they conducted postmortem examinations of the monkeys’ brains, the team also confirmed that the treated animals had replenished levels of dopamine. In the untreated animals, dopamine levels remained low.

Donita Robinson, a professor of psychiatry and researcher at the University of North Carolina Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, is impressed that the effects lasted for a year. “These findings support the idea that normalizing dopamine, or perhaps just boosting the levels of beneficial growth factors like GDNF, could be a useful strategy for reducing the drive to drink alcohol,” says Robinson, who wasn’t involved with the experiment.

But the dopamine pathway is broadly involved in movement and motivation, so this kind of therapy could potentially influence other behaviors. In fact, the study authors found that the treated monkeys drank less water than their untreated counterparts, and also weren’t as interested in a sugary solution. They drank about 20 percent of the sweet solution compared to untreated animals, who drank all of it. They also lost about 18 percent…

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