Feeds

Alcoholic rats' boozing slashed by mutant superpower drug

X-Men therapy curbs lager-swilling rodent lifestyle

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?