Magazine article Science News

Rats Given Boozing Superpowers: Drug Makes Rodents Resistant to Intoxication, Aftereffects

Magazine article Science News

Rats Given Boozing Superpowers: Drug Makes Rodents Resistant to Intoxication, Aftereffects

Article excerpt

Rats dosed with a compound isolated from an ancient herbal remedy appear all but impervious to quantities of alcohol that put their compatriots under the table. Rodents on the drug can drink large amounts without passing out, show fewer signs of hangover and even fail to become addicted to alcohol after weeks of drinking, researchers report in the Jan. 4 Journal of Neuroscience.

If the compound has similar effects in humans, it may offer a way to combat alcohol's dizzying effects, the dreaded hangover and even alcohol dependence. "I think it's really pretty incredible that one study opens up avenues for so many angles," says neuroscientist A. Leslie Morrow of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

Researchers led by Jing Liang of UCLA began by surveying herbal compounds that reportedly have anti-alcohol effects. A promising candidate caught the researchers' eyes: an extract isolated from the seeds of the Asian tree Hovenia dulcis, first described as a primo hang-over remedy in the year 659.

In the new study, Liang and her team tested one ingredient of Hovenia called dihydromyricetin, or DHM, on rats, which respond to alcohol in similar ways as humans do. After rats were given the human equivalent of 15 to 20 beers in under two hours, the animals passed out in a drunken stupor and lost the reflex to flip over when placed on their backs. The rats took about an hour after this binge to regain control of their bodies and flip themselves over.

But when the rats received a shot of DHM along with their alcohol, they tolerated booze better. …

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