Mutant worms can help treat alcoholics: Study

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: Mutation in worms stops them from getting intoxicated, provides new hope for drunken people, claims a new study.

Neuroscientists from the University of Texas, have generated mutant worms that do not get drunk by inserting a modified human alcohol target into the worms.

These worms have the potential application for treating people addicted to alcohol and could lead to new drugs.

The worm called caenorhabditis elegans are used in the study to model intoxication well.

The crawling of the worm slowed down with less wriggling from side to side due to alcohol.

After intoxication the worm also stopped laying eggs which build up in their bodies and could be easily counted.

An alcohol target is any neuronal molecule that binds alcohol, of which there are many.

One of the important aspect of the modified alcohol target, a neuronal channel called the BK channel, is that the mutation only affects its response to alcohol.

The BK channel typically regulates many important functions including activity of neurons, blood vessels, the respiratory tract and bladder.

This was the first example of altering a human alcohol target to prevent intoxication in an animal, says corresponding author, Jon Pierce-Shimomura.

He further added that they got pretty lucky and found a way to make the channel insensitive to alcohol without affecting its normal function.

Since the drug would counteract the intoxicating and potentially addicting effects of the alcohol, it could be used to treat alcoholics.

The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

(With Agency Inputs)

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