Alcoholic monkeys cured of booze addiction in study that could work for humans

A groundbreaking treatment has helped cure monkeys of their booze addiction and it could work for humans too, researchers have claimed.

Scientists from the Universities of Iowa and Copenhagen have come up with a new treatment that cuts boozing in vervet monkeys by half.

The monkeys mirror a number of characteristics displayed in humans including a time of preference for alcohol at times, which makes them a key candidate for the study.

The species are even known to steal drinks from people at bars and are believed to be "heavy drinkers", reports Sky News.

Researchers have discovered that an analogue to a hormone supplied by the liver, named fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), can suppress drinking in vervet monkeys and mice.

They have since developed a way to target the neural pathways that add to how mammals control their alcohol consumption.

The report published in the journal Cell Metabolism reads: "Mammals began consuming alcohol from fermented fruit long before humans developed methods to produce alcohol from distillation.

"Given that excessive alcohol consumption negatively impacts health and survival, it is not surprising that numerous physiological systems have evolved to sense and regulate alcohol consumption in mammals."

They added: "The vervet monkey population is comprised of alcohol avoiders, moderate alcohol drinkers, and a group of heavy drinkers.

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"The heavy drinkers will consume alcohol to intoxication if possible, thereby offering a preclinical model of alcohol drinking that may more closely reflect aspects of harmful drinking in humans."

As part of the study, twenty male vervet monkeys with an innate preference for booze were given access to alcohol for four hours a day for four days.

After their baseline drinking behaviour was established, the species were divided into two groups, one where the monkeys were given a placebo and another which had the new treatment.

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It has been reported that experts found that the monkeys who were given the treatment consumed 50% less than they did at their baseline.

Dr Kyle Flippo, of the University of Iowa, commented: "Our results provide a mechanism for a liver-to-brain endocrine feedback loop that presumably functions to protect the liver from damage.

"The central molecular and cellular effects of FGF21 represent an opportunity for future research, and the present data indicates that FGF21 analogues may provide a potential treatment option against alcohol-use disorder and related diagnosis."

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