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Researchers identify brain proteins targeted by alcohols and other anesthetics

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Stanford University have released the strongest evidence to date that alcohols and surgical anesthetics, like other drugs, bind to specific sites on proteins in the brain.

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AUSTIN, Texas —Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Stanford University have released the strongest evidence to date that alcohols and surgical anesthetics, like other drugs, bind to specific sites on proteins in the brain.

This discovery not only could lead to the development of new drugs for the treatment of alcoholism, but also to improvements in anesthetics, the researchers said.

Dr. R. Adron Harris, director of the UT Austin Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, and his colleagues have been able to pin down the activity of the two drugs in the body for the first time by using an innovative approach outlined in the August issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Harris holds the M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Chair in Molecular Biology. His collaborators were Dr. Maria Paola Mascia, a research associate with the Waggoner Center, and Dr. James R. Trudell, professor of chemistry in anesthesia at Stanford University.