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The Allen Enterprise Project
Alcohol-related Liver Disease

Research, Research and more Research (These videos are best viewed in full screen mode).

I must confess to being really excited by the present research that’s being carried out into alcohol addiction. I’m beginning to believe there are other factors at work here and that our body’s immune systems may hold the key to a lot our psychological problems. It has recently been discovered, that the body’s immune system may trigger a desire to drink alcohol. Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia have found a new link between the brain's immune system and the desire to drink alcohol in the evening.* (See below). There is also a lot of research being carried out about the link between our immune system and some causes of depression. So here could be the link or the start of the vigorous cycle. I have already spoken in these pages about the correlation between alcohol and depression. Both these conditions can go hand in glove. Depression may cause a person to want to self-medicate on alcohol in an vain attempt to lift the gloom. Alcohol as we know is a depressant so a a downward spiral of events will begin to emerge.. If we then add the body’s immune system or a rogue gene into the mix, then we have three separate situations all contributing to the same problem. Another aspect this research has highlighted, that our drinking behaviour isn’t just akin to humans. It has been discovered that the Vervet Monkeys show similar behavioural traits to us humans. Around 300 years ago, Vervet monkeys were brought to the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean from Africa along with slaves serving the rum industry. Escaped monkeys developed a taste for alcohol by eating fermenting sugar-cane left in the fields. Today they satisfy their thirst by raiding local bars. For years the monkeys have been studied for insights into our own drinking habits. Just as we vary in our taste for alcohol so do the monkeys. The percentage of tea total monkeys matches the non-drinkers in the human population. In line with human habits, most drink in moderation, twelve per cent are steady drinkers and five per cent drink to the last drop. A liking for alcohol is determined by genes and, like monkeys, human taste for alcohol began when we scoured the forest for ripe fermenting fruit. After each daily raid, other human parallels soon appear. In contrast, however, heavy drinkers make good leaders among monkeys, respected by the others. Sometime ago I posted a thread on the British Liver Trust’s HealthUnlocked site, about Liver disease research being carried out in the far east. A lot of the research of this nature is shared with other worldwide countries and institutions. This could spell the end of liver transplants in the future. The idea behind this is for the liver to regenerate dead cirrhotic liver cells. Enter the exciting world of stem cell research.

Will Liver Transplantation become a thing of the past?

Back in Aug 2010, the Daily Mail published an article, this was entitled, “Grow your own transplant liver in a lab within just 5 years”. And can be found at: Back in April 2013, the BBC produced a program entitled, “How Do Stem Cells Work? Bang Goes the Theory”. Although this program is now some 6-years old, it does offer an insight into the workings of Stem Cells. I’ve also come across a further video which explains the stem cells debate rather well and also briefly touches on the ethical debate. Japan is also doing some fantastic research, (Yamaguchi University) and this video is frightening in that it’s rather like something out of the “Terminator II” film. I half expect to see Arnie walking i nto shot at any moment. Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord following the birth of a baby. It is rich in blood stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow, and these can be used to treat many different cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders and as can be seen even liver cirrhosis: While researching all of this I have already come across a number of private Cord Blood banks springing up here in the UK: This is the future happening now. I just hope that one day I’ll still be alive to see these research models come to fruition. All this sounds a little science fiction. While there are some who will argue about the ethical challenges that are bond to arise with this, I feel we already have this going on now with some cultures hiding behind religion in order to refuse to donate organs. I just hope that common sense will prevail. I would like to thank the BBC for the use of these video clips. ( These videos are best viewed in full screen mode ) . *