§ Mr. Ernie Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the results of the research work, at Northwick Park hospital, Middlesex, on alcoholism with respect to (a) the lack of the enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, amongst alcoholics, (b) the reaction of acetaldehyde with neurotransmitters to produce opiate-type compounds and (c) the extent to which low levels of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase may be regarded as a cause or effect of alcoholism are available to his Department; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. William Shelton
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to research studies being conducted at the Medical Research Council's epidemiology and medical care unit at the Northwick Park hospital, in collaboration with the council's clinical research centre on the same site. I understand that the present evidence from these studies, which have not yet been completed, suggests that the low level of the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which is found in alcoholics, is the cause rather than the effect of alcoholism. Results of the investigations into the reaction of acetaldehyde with neurotransmitters are not yet available. The results of the research will be published in due course.