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Dr Alexis Bailey

2014 pump priming award recipient

Dr Alexis Bailey, Surrey University

The treatment of alcoholism is a major public health issue with major socioeconomic implications. However, little is known about the neurobiology underlining the transition from light/moderate to heavy/persistent drinking and there is a need for better drugs to treat this disorder.

GABAB receptors are important signalling proteins in the brain. Drugs which stimulate these receptors are considered promising for the treatment of alcohol addiction. However, studies with these stimulating drugs show conflicting results as there is confusion over how these drugs work in addiction. There are two subtypes of GABAB receptors found in the brain; one contains GABAB1a and the other GABAB1b, and we have found in our recent experiments that GABAB1a protects against cocaine addiction. We do not know how these receptors affect alcohol drinking.

Therefore, the aim of the study is to understand how GABAB1a and GABAB1b can influence alcohol drinking by using mice that lack either GABAB1a or GABAB1b receptors. This will help us understand what causes people to increase their alcohol drinking and ultimately help the development of better drugs to treat alcoholism.