'Happyhour' Gene Decides How Fast You Get Drunk

Cancer drug could be used to lower humans' alcohol tolerance
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2009 11:15 AM CDT
'Happyhour' Gene Decides How Fast You Get Drunk
Drosophila pseudoobscura, or the fruit fly, has yielded a lot of knowledge about the genes that control our response to alcohol. Drunk flies actually act a lot like drunk people.   (©Image Editor)

(Newser) – What if your genes determined how much of a tolerance you had to alcohol—and you could take a drug that would turn those genes on or off? That scenario may not be far from reality: researchers studying fruit flies have discovered a gene called "happyhour" that renders heavyweights incapable of handling more than a few sips, NewScientist reports.

The team of biologists, who previously found genes they dubbed "cheapdate" and "hangover," posit that some existing cancer drugs could also treat alcoholism by blocking the same pathway "happyhour" runs on. Rats given the cancer drug chose to drink less, and both mice and flies got plastered on less alcohol when the gene was turned off.
(Read more genetics stories.)

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