Sobriety Drug: Never Be Drunk Again
Scientists on track to prevent intoxication
A report this week in the Journal of Neuroscience describes an experiment conducted at the University of Texas at Austin that could potentially lead to new drugs to help those suffering from alcohol withdrawal. The research might also eventually yield a James Bond–style tonic that could prevent people from getting drunk even after imbibing copious amounts of alcohol.
This development comes from an experiment conducted on roundworms. Neuroscientists inserted a modified human alcohol target—a neuronal channel known as the BK channel that regulates important functions such as your respiratory tract and bladder—into a number of Caenorhabditis elegans to create a kind of “mutant worm” that proved impervious to the effects of alcohol. (Yes, “normal” worms can get drunk.)
“This is the first example of altering a human alcohol target to prevent intoxication in an animal,” said Jon Pierce-Shimomura, an assistant professor at the university and a co-author of the study.
“We got pretty lucky and found a way to make the channel insensitive to alcohol without affecting its normal function,” he said.
You don’t have to be a neurological whiz to know that it’s a long way from the nervous centers of C. elegans to the human brain, but these findings have given rise to optimism. Mice are likely the next test subjects in this foray into mutant animal intoxication. We will keep you posted.