An anonymous reader writes: A team from Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute discovered blocking the action of the brain's orexin system can also prevent someone relapsing of alcohol cravings. This chemical is involved in the "high" felt after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs. Orexin-producing cells are also thought to play a part in regulating feeding, so the researchers believe they could also help treat eating disorders. Alcohol-related deaths rose to 8,386 in 2005 compared to 4,144 in 2001 in the UK, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease have more than doubled in a decade, reaching 35,400 in 2004/5. In rat studies, a team led by Dr Andrew Lawrence created a compound which was seen to block the "euphoric" effects of orexin. In one experiment, rats that had alcohol freely available to them stopped drinking it after receiving the orexin blocker.
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