Feeds

Alcoholic rats' boozing slashed by mutant superpower drug

X-Men therapy curbs lager-swilling rodent lifestyle

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Scientists based in Chile and Colorado have carried out astonishing research which appears to offer a cure for that scourge of modern society - alcoholism in rats.

In a paper to be published in the January edition of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Yedy Israel of the Universidad de Chile and Richard Deitrich of the University of Colorado reveal their findings. Most significant of these is that:

"Intravenous administration of an anti-Aldh2 anti-sense gene can curtail long-term drinking among rodents."

Rather than scouring city centres for boozed-up rat volunteers desperate to be saved from themselves, Israel and Deitrich took a perhaps more ethically questionable path. Obtaining a group of rats which "had been bred as heavy alcohol drinkers", the scientists deliberately lushed them up over a long period, standing endless rounds of beer.

The thirsty rodents were apparently "further rendered alcohol dependent through a two-month period of unlimited, voluntary intake of the equivalent of premium beer, followed by withdrawal, followed by a one-hour 'happy hour' each day", according to the scientists.

"During this hour the animals drank 10 times more alcohol than what is normally consumed," added the boffins (By alcoholic rats?).

But then the squiffy vermin were put onto a particularly cruel temperance regime, in which they were injected with "anti-sense gene therapy".

This works by suppressing the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase-2, which is "needed to eliminate products of alcohol metabolism". It seems that some East Asian humans naturally have a genetic mutation with similar effects, which is what put Israel and Deitrich on the track in the first place.

Without one's trusty aldehyde dehydrogenase-2, drinking alcohol becomes a very unpleasant experience. When the luckless East Asian sufferers take a tipple, according to Israel, "they experience nausea, facial redness and a pounding heart".

Prof Israel - clearly a the-glass-is-half-full kind of guy, in a way - describes this crippling disability as positive, saying that the hapless East Asian human mutants "are 66 to 99 per cent protected against alcoholism".

All the same, it's not the kind of superpower you'd really boast about at Dr Xavier's X-Men style special school for mutants, we submit. ("What's your power, new kid? I can shoot laser beams out of my eyes" "Oh, I get nausea, facial redness and a pounding heart when I drink alcohol.")

In any case, despite having been temporarily artificially mutated to suppress their enzymes, the thirsty rats still managed to put away a good deal of booze. Despite presumably suffering badly from puking, palpitations and under-fur redness, they only reduced their consumption by half; thus, if we understand correctly, still downing five times as much booze as an everyday rat furnished with infinite supplies of free premium lager.

Again, the boffins put a positive spin on this, suggesting that gene anti-sense would be just the ticket for letting an alcoholic become a normal boozer again rather than having to go fully teetotal.

"This would appear to have implications for a social-drinking pattern, and the notion of 'harm reduction', where full abstinence is not the only acceptable goal," said Israel.

That said, the notion of desperate, scarlet-faced, chundering boozers continuing to force down lager until their tickers hit the redline seems rather unappealing in many ways.

However, all is not lost.

"These findings are a long way from being applied to humans," said Deitrich.

The press release can be read here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.