University of Iowa Study: One protein may curb alcohol cravings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Iowa Study: One protein may curb alcohol cravings and protect the heart

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A team at the University of Iowa has identified a protein that can control alcohol cravings and also protect organs in the body.

Researchers say this discovery could eventually lead to a new way to help control alcohol abuse.

The protein is called RGS6, identified by Rory Fisher, Ph.D, a professor of pharmacology in the UI Carver College of Medicine.

"Given the prevalence of alcohol abuse worldwide there is a clear need for more effective therapeutics," Fisher said in a news release. "We propose that inhibiting this RGS6 protein could represent a new approach to counteract alcohol dependence and at the same time protect against the cell-killing actions of alcohol in the heart and liver."

In the new study, the UI team used mice lacking RGS6 to probe the protein's roles in both alcohol craving and organ damage. The researchers found that mice without the protein consumed less alcohol than other mice when given free access.

When they were given alcohol, the mice that lacked the protein experienced less damage to heart and liver as well as the lining of the gut.

There currently are only a few drugs that purport to treat alcohol dependence and none that treat the damaging effects alcohol has on various organs. The UI study suggests that targeting the actions of RGS6 might accomplish both.

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