WEIRD NEWS
07/17/2014 01:10 pm ET | Updated Jul 17, 2014

Mutated Worms Could Be Good News For Alcoholics

Those looking to cut back on boozing could worm up to the implications of this study.

Scientists at the University of Texas in Austin have mutated a group of worms so that they are unable to get drunk, no matter how much alcohol they consume.

The university explains:

The scientists accomplished this feat by inserting a modified human alcohol target into the worms, as reported this week in The Journal of Neuroscience.

"This is the first example of altering a human alcohol target to prevent intoxication in an animal," says corresponding author, Jon Pierce-Shimomura, assistant professor in the university's College of Natural Sciences and Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

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

The altered target is normally responsible for regulating functions including the activity of neurons, blood vessels, the respiratory tract and the bladder.

"We got pretty lucky and found a way to make the channel insensitive to alcohol without affecting its normal function," Pierce-Shimomura said.

The scientists hope their research will eventually lead to drugs for alcoholics that would help kick addiction by blocking the intoxicating and potentially addicting effects of alcohol.

"Our findings provide exciting evidence that future pharmaceuticals might aim at this portion of the alcohol target to prevent problems in alcohol abuse disorders," Pierce-Shimomura. said. "However, it remains to be seen which aspects of these disorders would benefit."

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