Halting effects of alcohol linked to how
the worm turns: study
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[July 17, 2014]
AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Mutant
worms generated at a lab at the University of Texas may provide a
pathway to prevent people from becoming intoxicated after drinking
alcohol, a study released on Wednesday said.
The research could lead to new drugs to help people going through
alcohol withdrawal or even prevent them from feeling the effects of
a night of hard drinking, the scientists who wrote the study said.
"This is the first example of altering a human alcohol target to
prevent intoxication in an animal," said co-author Jon
Pierce-Shimomura, an assistant professor in the university's College
of Natural Sciences.
Pharmaceutical applications could include a "James Bond drug" that
would help a spy drink an opponent under the table and walk away
without being shaken or stirred, according to Pierce-Shimomura.
The team found in worms a mutation on a channel for neurons, called
the BK channel, that does not allow alcohol to have intoxicating
effects, according to the findings published in The Journal of
They were then able to recreate the mutation on a similar channel
found in humans.
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The type of worm used in the study indicates alcohol intoxication
well by slowing their crawling and reducing their wriggling from
side to side. Intoxicated worms also stopped laying eggs, the study
"We got pretty lucky and found a way to make the channel insensitive
to alcohol without affecting its normal function,” said
(Editing by Eric Walsh)
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