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Brain’s Immune Cells are a Central Driver of Alcohol Use Disorder

Brain’s Immune Cells are a Central Driver of Alcohol Use Disorder

The brain's primary immune cells play a fundamental role in alcohol use disorder, according to a new study from Scripps Research and The University of Texas at Austin. The scientists are the first to link these cells—known as microglia—to the molecular, cellular and behavioral changes that promote the increased drinking that's associated with alcohol dependence.

Scientists Discover Molecular Culprits Linked to Alcohol Use Disorders

Scientists Discover Molecular Culprits Linked to Alcohol Use Disorders

An unanswered question in alcoholism research has been what drives the transition from moderate alcohol consumption to alcohol dependence. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin set out to discover if a molecule that regulates gene expression in the brain called Lim-only 4 (Lmo4) could facilitate this transition. In doing so, they discovered a molecular mechanism in the brain that is critical to the development of alcoholism, providing potential new targets for treatment.

Social Support Aids Recovery from Drug Addiction, Study Suggests

Social Support Aids Recovery from Drug Addiction, Study Suggests

Having an option to receive social support rather than use drugs is better at reducing relapse than cutting out drugs completely, and this behavior has its own control circuit in the brain, according to research co-authored by University of Texas neuroscientist Robert Messing. The research, done in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides evidence supporting existing recovery offerings and has implications for developing new drug-addiction treatments.

The Next 50 Years: Thinking Outside the Brain

The Next 50 Years: Thinking Outside the Brain

This semester, the College of Natural Sciences is checking in with faculty experts about developments related to their fields of study that may well affect how we live, work and interact with one another and the world around us over the next 50 years. For this installment, we hear from Professor Adron Harris, M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Chair in Molecular Biology, a professor of neuroscience, pharmacology and psychiatry, and the associate director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

Scientists Pinpoint New Alcohol Addiction Pathway in Brain

Scientists Pinpoint New Alcohol Addiction Pathway in Brain

There's a new line of attack in the war on alcoholism: Reporting in the journal Science, UT Austin researchers discovered that people suffering from alcoholism have less of a protein, GAT-3, in the part of the brain called the amygdala.

Anti-Alcoholism Drug Shows Promise in Animal Models

Anti-Alcoholism Drug Shows Promise in Animal Models

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully tested in animals a drug that, they say, may one day help block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that incessantly coax people with alcoholism to drink. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully tested in animals a drug that, they say, may one day help block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that incessantly coax people with alcoholism to drink. If eventually brought to market, it could help the more than 15 million Americans, and many more around the world who suffer from alcoholism stay sober.

Drinking Rates Differ for LGB Youth, Study Finds

Drinking Rates Differ for LGB Youth, Study Finds

Despite increased acceptance of same-sex marriage and workplace equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people many LGB youth continue to have higher-than-heterosexual rates of drinking, according to a new paper published today in Addiction.

UT Austin Leads $29 Million Alcoholism Treatment Consortium

UT Austin Leads $29 Million Alcoholism Treatment Consortium

The National Institutes of Health has awarded an international consortium seeking better pharmaceutical treatments for alcoholism a five-year grant totaling $29 million. The administrative headquarters and several of the projects will be at The University of Texas at Austin, which will receive $8.5 million of the total.

Resetting the Alcoholic Brain (Audio)

Resetting the Alcoholic Brain (Audio)

Adron Harris, director of the Waggoner Center for Alcoho and Addiction Research, and his team mapped the differences in gene expression between an alcoholic's brain and a non-alcoholic's brain. They found that, as a person becomes dependent on alcohol, thousands of genes in their brains are turned up or down, like a dimmer switch on a lightbulb, compared to the same genes in a healthy person's brain.

Harnessing the Power of Science and Community

Harnessing the Power of Science and Community

Science, once cloistered away in distant labs and rarefied academic journals, these days is connecting with the masses. One important way is through new crowdfunding initiatives that allow UT Austin community members to invest in facilities and research in new ways.