Narrator: This is Science Today. A new finding about the way alcohol affects the human brain may soon lead to better treatments for alcoholism. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center recently discovered the precise locations in the brain where endorphins are released during alcohol consumption.
Mitchell: This study was one piece in a much larger puzzle that has to do with developing those therapeutics, in particular with a drug we call naltrexone. We're trying to reverse engineer that drug and make it better.
Narrator: Study leader Jennifer Mitchell says the problem with naltrexone is that while it may be effective, its mechanisms are not very specific. And it can also cause a number of unwanted side effects.
Mitchell: We now have a much better idea of which opioid receptors in which brain regions are most important to target to ameliorate some of the issues associated with alcohol abuse and dependence and we hope that we'd be able to come up with a variety of new therapeutics in the next five or so years.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.