Binge-Drinking Rodents' Salvation Is Menstrual Drug -- Can Humans Be Far Behind?

At last he can get the help he needs. Perhaps you're next.
Articles about menstruation, alcoholism, or drunken mice are not usually high on anyone's wish list -- but, combine all three and you've got a hell of a story.

A paper published late last month by researchers at U.C. San Francisco's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center asserts that a drug commonly used to treat infertility and menstrual disorders could help keep hard-core alcoholics off the sauce.

The study, led by Dr. Dorit Ron -- a Gallo Center researcher and neurology professor at UCSF -- was carried out on alcoholic rats. Over the course of two months, the rodents underwent a training program in which they learned to pull a lever to receive alcohol (meaning rodents can master in two months what it takes college undergraduates four years to pick up). Like humans, some rats chose to drink moderately while others binged -- yet, after being injected with the drug cabergoline, both sensible and out-of-control rats drank less.

Now, here's the kicker: While cabergoline has been used to combat Parkinson's disease, large doses have been connected with heart valve problems. Still, Ron says even very small doses were effective on the mice, while a pilot study on cocaine addicts -- human cocaine addicts -- also reported promising results.

Incidentally, we'd love to see a lever device designed to deliver rodents their cocaine.


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