Science Channel - InSCIder

17 Jul

Scientists Have Engineered Worms That Don't Get Drunk

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 2.13.22 PMNewly-created mutant worms don't get drunk, so what does this mean for humans?

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have engineered worms that don't become intoxicated by alcohol, "the first example of altering a human alcohol target to prevent intoxication in an animal," corresponding author Jon Pierce-Shimomura said in a statement.

According to a press release from the university, "The scientists accomplished this feat by inserting a modified human alcohol target into the worms..."

"One important aspect of this 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. The alcohol-insensitive mutation does not disrupt these functions at all."

The Verge explains:

"Normally, when worms are put in a petri dish that contains alcohol, they become drunk. For a worm, this mean not being able to wiggle from side to side as much. It also means crawling much more slowly. But with the modified channel, the worms acted just as they did without the alcohol."

Next up, the scientists will test their methods on mice, possibly leading to the eventual development of a "James Bond drug" that would allow humans to drink as much as they'd like without getting drunk.

If you're not going to get drunk while drinking, you may as well use that red wine for a pretty ingenious life hack.

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