Science has managed to achieve in 14 years what it took the Kennedy family hundreds of years – breed a generation of offspring who prefer drink with high levels of alcohol to all other options. Of course, the Kennedys are human beings and the researchers at Indiana University used rodents. I’ll leave it to you to decide if there’s a giant difference.
In a recent paper published in Addiction Biology, Nicholas Grahame describes the first generation of mice that purposefully and willingly get wasted every single night. By selecting and breeding mice for more than a decade who kind of like the taste of 20 proof alcoholic drinks, Grahame finally succeeded in creating mice to pass up other options in order to hit the bottle.
And it only took 40 generations.
The new line of mice enjoys drinking primarily at night, managing to hit a blood alcohol content of 260 mg/dl, which according to my calculations ins about a .28. And according to the chart on Wikipedia, this at the high end of stupor, impaired sensations and severe motor impairment and nearing loss of bladder function, unconsciousness and potential death.
They like the hard stuff so much, in fact, that the best lines take in more than 20 g/kg/day. Again, according to my calculations, that’s about me (a 190-pound man) drinking roughly 3.75 gallons of wine per day.
That’s right, I said gallons.
I’m guessing mice have a higher metabolism. Of course, my math might be off, so I invite you to check it.
Besides endless hours of fun watching the mice prove that they’re drunk by falling off of balance beams (that was really the test), the new mice are beneficial for the study of alcoholism in humans. Mice are often used as model animals for studying human diseases. With the new line, scientists can, “explore the predisposing factors for excessive consumption, as well as the development of physiological, behavioral and toxicological outcomes following alcohol exposure,” according to Grahame.
“This line of high-alcohol-seeking mice should be able to give us a better understanding of the basic brain mechanism involved in alcohol consumption as well as greater insight into the toxic effects on the brain, with the goal of developing therapies,” he added.
No word yet on the research team funding their next project by charging admission to watch the mice run obstacle courses.