Health $ Lifestyle

Scientists develop hormone injection that halves the time to sober up

The sober shot: Scientists develop hormone injection that halves the time it takes for you to snap out of your drunken stupor

It’s easy to take a night out one drink too far, but soon you might not need a drink of water and a walk around the block to reverse the signs of drunkenness. 

That’s because scientists have developed a hormone injection that rapidly sobers you up.

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) — produced in the livers of people and animals — was shown to halve the time it took for mice to recover from the effects of alcohol.

FGF21 is known to safeguard against the negative effects of alcohol by breaking it down more quickly and priming the brain.

In a study on mice, scientists have now discovered when the body is given an additional dose via injection, the hormones halve the time it takes to sober up.

A shot of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) halved the time it took for mice to recover from alcohol, researchers found

A shot of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) halved the time it took for mice to recover from alcohol, researchers found

University of Texas Southwestern researchers gave mice a ‘binge’ dose of ethanol, equivalent to a binge of alcohol in humans.

The mice lost their ‘righting reflex’ — the body’s ability to right itself when alcohol causes it to be off balance.

Mice lacking FGF21 took longer than other mice to recover their righting reflex and balance.

In a separate experiment, the researchers gave regular mice a binge dose of ethanol followed by an injection of FGF21 an hour later when they were unconscious from the alcohol.

This reduced the time both male and female mice took to recover their righting reflex by 1.5 hours — a 50 percent decrease compared to mice in the control group.

Co-senior study author Steven Kliewer said: ‘By increasing FGF21 concentrations even higher by injection, we can dramatically accelerate recovery from intoxication. FGF21 does this by activating a very specific part of the brain that controls alertness.’

FGF21 directly acts on the nervous system and neurons in the brain which regulate arousal and alertness.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The findings come amid a spike in deaths involving alcohol during the pandemic. Alcohol-related deaths jumped more than 25 percent between 2019 and 2020.

This year-over-year increase is a massive departure from the norm, which hovered around two to three percent average annual percent increase between 1999 and 2017.

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) — produced in the livers of people and animals — was shown to halve the time it took for mice to recover from the effects of alcohol

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) — produced in the livers of people and animals — was shown to halve the time it took for mice to recover from the effects of alcohol  

Binge drinking is so widely accepted in modern American society that its negative effects are often underestimated. But binge drinking can pave the way for a dependence on alcohol. 

Crossing the binge threshold also raises the risk of severe harm caused by blackouts including accidents and overdoses.

Alcohol affects just about every bodily tissue. A heavy drinking episode can cause inflammation of the pancreas, stomach, and/or liver. 

Heavy drinking can also cause high blood pressure, dehydration and dangerously low levels of sodium, potassium, and other minerals and salts.

It can also lead to lung infections caused by inhibition of the gag reflex, allowing vomit, saliva, or other substances to enter the lungs. 

Binge drinking also raises the chance of having unsafe sex, possibly resulting in unwanted pregnancy or STDs.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DRINK ALCOHOL? 

Alcoholic drinks contain the chemical ethanol, which affects the body in a number of ways

It slows down parts of the brain responsible for thought processing and muscle movement, which can lead to memory loss and clumsy behaviour. 

It also prevents neurotransmitters moving through your nervous system, making you feel calm, while triggering the release of hormones.

Along with the stimulants norepinephrine, adrenaline and dopamine, FGF21 is also produced to help prevent liver damage.

It promotes the breakdown of harmful fatty acids and stems the production of reactive oxygen species in the liver, as they can both build up as the body metabolises alcohol.

Previous studies have also shown that FGF21 decreases your desire to continue drinking alcohol, and increases your desire for water.

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