Drunken Worms Reveal A Genetic Basis Of Alcohol Response

Published: Jun 10, 2004

Since one of the basic risk factors for alcoholism is a tolerance to alcohol, researchers have long sought to understand the genetic differences among people that affect their sensitivity to alcohol. So far, scientists have met with little success. However, by exposing populations of the roundworm C. elegans to alcohol and pinpointing subtle genetic differences among strains that respond differently, researchers have identified one gene that affects alcohol sensitivity. In an article in the June 10, 2004, issue of Neuron, Andrew Davies and his colleagues describe their findings that subtle differences between worm strains in the gene for a brain protein called NPR-1 explains differences in the worms' alcohol sensitivity.

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