(If you did, we hope you used your Dreamland Festival mug!) Why do some people get drunk after only a few drinks, while others seem to be able to put away much more alcohol? It turns out that immune cells in your brain may contribute to how you respond to alcohol.
This immune response lies behind some of the well-known alcohol-related behavioral changes, such as difficulty controlling the muscles involved in walking and talking. Researcher Mark Hutchinson says, "It’s amazing to think that despite 10,000 years of using alcohol, and several decades of investigation into the way that alcohol affects the nerve cells in our brain, we are still trying to figure out exactly how it works."
This research could lead to a way of detecting people who are at greater risk of developing brain damage after long-term drinking. According to Hutchinson, "The results (of our study) showed that blocking this part of the immune system, either with the drug or genetically, reduced the effects of alcohol. Medications targeting this specific receptor may prove beneficial in treating alcohol dependence and acute overdoses."
If it eventually becomes this easy to cure alcoholism, long, arduous trips to AA meetings (along with the inevitable relapses) could become a thing of the past.
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