Hooked Worms


A.P. reports that researchers have found "a gene responsible for drunkenness in worms after plying thousands of the tiny creatures with booze, a discovery that could boost the fight against alcoholism." According to a brief in the Baltimore Sun, "the sober worms had the same mutated gene that appears to make them immune to alcohol's intoxicating effects."

Now, I'm no expert on worm genes, but it seems to me that the distinguishing feature of alcoholics is not that they become intoxicated when they driink, or that they like to drink, but that they tend to drink too much. If scientists really want to gain insights into alcohol abuse, they should study subjects whose consumption is demonstrably excessive–say, the worm at the bottom of the mezcal bottle.

[Thanks to Jeff Schaler for the link.]

NEXT: These Thread-Bare Robes

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Steve in CO, thanks for the ideas, but I envision getting something from a pharmacist after the FDA has been abolished and pharmacists are all unlicensed.

  2. Drunk as a worm?

  3. From the conclusion of the paper in Cell:

    Given the strength of the resistance phenotypes associated with mutations in slo-1 in C. elegans and the observations of in vitro effects of ethanol on BK channels from multiple cell types, we now propose that the effects of ethanol on BK channels…bring about acute behavioral changes through inhibition of neuronal activity. If BK channels are critical mediators of ethanol effects, then the near-ubiquitous expression of BK channels in mammals may explain many diverse pharmacological effects of ethanol as it appears to do in C. elegans. In humans, variation in behavioral sensitivity to ethanol has also been found to correlate with frequency of alcoholism?individuals with lower sensitivity to ethanol have a higher frequency of alcoholism (Schuckit, 1994). Hence, the mechanisms that mediate ethanol sensitivity may also influence ethanol dependence.

    In other words, they found a mutation that confers resistance to ethanol in the worm, and propose that such a mutation might be relevant to the study of alcoholism because it has been observed that one trait associated with alcoholism is lower sensitivity to the effects of ethanol. Yes, it’s a bit of an inductive leap, but that’s how the game is played.

  4. I for one urge our lawmaker’s to support a ban on drunk-worm gene research. Without such a ban pencil-neck scientist may find a way to keep us all sober. *hic*

  5. “hic”
    Will, I think I Will agree with you. That is, I think I think. Therefore I may or may not. Hell, I may. In fact, I will. Hit me again.
    Jug wine uber alles or
    What is the true “in” name of jug wine?
    No, not Ripple.

  6. I actually read all the way thru the science journal story on this finding and I kept thinking, “This cuts both ways, guys.” Researchers kept framing the finding as a possible way to treat alcoholics, but if you isolate what makes them drunk, you also raise the possibility of producing a substance that can get you drunk without all the nasty side-effects of alcohol. If all getting good and drunk needs is something to trigger certain brain cells to off-load potassium like mad, well, then we have a race don’t we?

    That and the research was conducted at an institute named for noted jug-wine magnate Ernest Gallo…….

  7. “say, the worm at the bottom of the mezcal bottle.”

    We can see demon rum got that fellow in a pickle.

    But, if all drugs were legal, who knows what “cocktail” would produce the highest high with the least physical damage? This is the important research begging to be done.

  8. Ruthless,

    With the short-lived, but ferverent uproar about caffienated mixed bevarges (i.e. Red Bull & Vodka) you can just imagine the outcry of the nannies and drug warriors over say, Beer made from potent hemp or, God forbid, cola with cocaine, or Wine with poppy extracts.




    PS Jacob, thank you for keeping up the good fight against those who would (and often do) tell us what private choices we supposed free people should make.

  9. Finally, some worms that can party.

  10. No word yet whether the drunk worms were more likely to “put out”, head butt other worms, or stretch out their tiny cillia while slurring, “I love you thish mush, man.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.