Science Daily posted an article of a study done by researchers at North Carolina State Univeristy on drunk fruit flies. The purpose of the study was to measure the time it takes for fruit flies to lose postural control after being exposured to alcohol. Some flies like peope were more sensitive to alcohol while others were more tolerant. The researchers were able to locate specific genes that played a role in how the alcohol affected the flies. The data collected was then applied to human studies to see if the outcomes would be the same. It was found that the same genes that are affected by alcohol in fruit flies also apply in humans. A total of 582 genes where discovered that are affected by alcohol. The researchers hope that the discovery of these genes will eventually lead to preventatives and/or treatments to help people with alcoholism. The discovery of these genes is important especially if it can lead to ways of helping alcoholics. There are many people who struggle with it and some are not able to do it on their own and having a way to help them would be very benefical to those people and their families.
A group has discovered a way to lower blood alcohol levels in mice. A new technique is used to assemble multiple enzymes that break down the alcohol in the blood stream and has also shown to reduce liver damage.
When they fed mice a diet of alcohol and the nanocomplex (AOx–Cat), they found that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was reduced by 10 percent at 45 minutes, by 32 percent after an hour and a half, and 37 percent after 3 hours, compared with significantly smaller reductions in mice fed alcohol and just one of the enzymes, with or without a polymer shell.
But the alcohol oxidation process produces a toxic intermediate called acetaldehyde. They believe that with this new technique of assembling and containing multiple enzymes they could break down the acetaldehyde.
Imagine if everyone could be drunk on New Year’s Eve, take a tablet and be sober in under 2 hours and drive home? Sounds good to me. Bars could sell them. You close out your tab at the end of a long night, pop a pill, hang out for a bit and drive away DUI free.
Why do organisms have “bad” genes even after millions of years of evolution? Why do genes that are detrimental to an organism’s health – genes that linger but never quite disappear from a population – remain in an organism’s genome after generations? According to Science Daily, these so-called “harmful” genes may be helpful – in certain situations. Historically, the concept of antagonistic pleiotrophy – the idea that certain genes that could be beneficial in some situations and harmful in others – is often used to explain why genetic disorders still exist in human populations.
Previously, this theory was used to explain a few types of genes, such as those that control aging and those that may lead to cancer. However, scientists at the University of Michigan have discovered that antagonistic pleiotrophy can be very influential in an organism’s lifetime. A University of Michigan research team lead by Dr. George Zhang discovered that yeast, a single-celled eukaryotic organism, displayed “widespread antagonistic pleiotrophy”. Yeast is very important in global culture and economy – it is used for making bread and brewing lagers, among other things.
The experiment showed that yeast cells had a capability to activate certain genes based on their growing conditions. For his experiment, he used six different environments, one of which included ethanol. From his conclusions, Zhang and his colleagues learned that yeast was able to choose which genes to turn on to fit its specific environment.
This experiment is interesting because it shows that organisms are very adaptable. It also explains why organisms have “good” and “bad” genes. The idea that the environment can control what genes are expressed is a very powerful concept. It won’t be long until scientists learn more about antagonistic pleiotrophy in humans.
It has been known for a while that substantial alcoholic drinking increases the risk of birth defects or may negatively affect the child in other ways, but now studies show that even moderate drinking can play a role in the intelligence of a child. There are four genetic variations that control the enzymatic ability to metabolize ethanol, some of which metabolize faster than others. These differences in metabolism indicate about how long the alcohol levels will be high for (so basically, the slower the metabolizing, the more likely one is to be considered a “lightweight”). After analyzing the genes of over 4,000 mothers during the course of their pregnancies, it was found that children of the mothers who consumed between one and six drinks a week had lower IQ scores by the time they were eight years old.
All four of the genetic variations were present in the study of the children, and these alcohol-metabolizing genes were related to the IQ’s identified. For each variation the children had, their IQ scores were two points lower. This data was compared against children whose mothers did not consume any alcohol during pregnancy, and there was no significant effect on the IQ’s. The observations made lead to conclude that alcohol consumed (whether moderate or substantial) during pregnancy has an effect on the future IQ of the fetus.
As ridiculous as it may sound, I never actually realized that genetic variations played a role in how ones body metabolizes alcohol/ethanol. Also, although I did always believe alcohol during pregnancy would always have an effect on the future child, I am somewhat surprised that all it takes for there to be an effect is one glass a week. Because something like this can so easily risk harm to or lower the IQ of a fetus, it makes me wonder if there are any other chemicals/nutrients that could affect a fetus so quickly and without much effort, but in the opposite way. So is there something similar to ethanol that could be consumed once a week throughout pregnancy that would enhance a fetus’ IQ?
When people think of alcohol, most people would associate it with going out and having fun to relax. Today, scientific research suggests that people with a blood alcohol level of 0.75, which is two pints of beer, were more creative during tests than those who were “sober.” It is apparent that when you drink, you are more open to new ideas and would probably do things you normally wouldn’t. The fact that it is actually proven to make humans more creative is amazing. This also explains why musicians and other talented people face drug and alcohol problems. The test, resembling Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, consisted of 40 men given brain teasers by psychologists at the University of Illinois. The men who had alcohol in their system solved their problems faster than that of the sober group. The drinkers answered 40% more questions, and answered them on average of 12 seconds as opposed to 15.5 seconds for the sober men. The researchers paid close attention to “attentional control” which is an individuals ability to pick and choose what they use and what they ignore, While alcohol shows to make you more creative because you are relaxed and view the “bigger picture” easier, physically you react slower when drinking. After reading this article, you can understand from a scientists point of view why drunk people act a certain way, and why singers commonly battle alcoholism. Each individual will be affected differently however, and genes also play a roll in alcoholism. Although being creative is a great talent, alcohol is still unhealthy to your body and can lead to major problems.
Polyploidy is defined as when a living creature, usually a plant or insect, has more than two, or diploid, sets of chromosomes – for example, it can have a triploid (three) or tetraploid (four) sets of chromosomes. Sometimes polyploidy can occur in tissues of otherwise diploid animals, including people, in which tissues of the muscle, placenta, and liver produce large polyploid cells.
An international team of scientists, including geneticist Bruce Edgar, PhD of the University of Heidelberg, Germany and Robert J. Duronio, PhD, professor of biology and genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), may have pinpointed the underlying mechanism for cell polyploidy. They noted that many organisms achieve this growth by increasing cell size rather than number. Drosophila melanogaster, or the laboratory fruit fly, enter a specialized cell cycle called an endocycle, which ultimately results in cell polyploidy. The researchers studied the Drosophila endocycle by mathematically modeling “the behavior of molecules known to control this special type of cell cycle and the progression to polyploidy” and then making predictions about the regulation of these molecules, which they then tested in fruit flies.
The results in their original research article abstract showed that the cyclical manner in which genes were turned on and off led cells to continue in the endocycle and become polyploid, and that one specific mutation of the mechanism disrupted this process. Duronio noted that further research may allow scientists to someday manipulate cells into becoming polyploid, which may be crucial to liver regeneration, for example, since polyploidy in the human liver may be important to its functions. Personally, I believe that this type of research is valuable since organs like the liver are necessary to survival in vertebrates, prone to disease because of its role in supporting most other organs in the body, and cannot be regenerated to its original form even though its function can be restored.
This article explores how resveratrol, an ingredient found in red wine can stop breast cancer growth. Resveratrol stops breast cancer cells from growing by blocking the growth effects of estrogen. This discovery was made by Italian and American scientists and suggests that resveratrol is able to counteract the malignant growth of breast cancer since it is able to inhibit the production of hormone resistant breast cancer cells. Experiments were conducted where several breast cancer cells expressing the estrogen receptor were treated with resveratrol and the growth was compared to cells that were left untreated. The researchers found a significant reduction in cell growth in the cells treated with resveratrol and no change in the cells that were untreated. Other experiments showed that this effect was related to a reduction of estrogen receptor levels caused by the resveratrol. This can be key for the treatment of woman with breast cancer whose tumors have developed a resistance to hormonal therapy.
I’m sure many of you have heard that there is believed to be a genetic component that is suspect when it comes to being an alcoholic. Studies to find this gene(s) and study human alcoholism have been strained in the past, due to human testing being somewhat “frowned upon”. But this research may have found an easier way in which it can continue. Vervet monkeys, a species that resides on St. Kitts Island, seem to mirror the drinking habits of humans. The monkeys have been seen stealing alcohol from the local bars and many sleeping tourists. Researchers collected 1000 of the monkeys from the island and kept them in a social group to observe their drinking habits. What they found was that the monkeys displayed different levels of alcohol consumption that was similar to humans, which ranged from “social drinker” to “binge drinker”. The way in which the monkeys’ behavior mimics that of humans suggests that they too may have a geneitic component that causes them to fall into alcoholism. Due to the fact that the vervet monkeys DNA shares 84.2% similarity to humans, scientists see them as fit to perform research on, with hopes that they will aid in the search for the genes associated with alcoholism in humans.
Scientists have discovered a gene that is linked to the amount of alcohol a person drinks. A study of 47,000 people enabled scientists to discover that the gene, AUTS2 has to do with alcohol consumption. People who have the rare version of AUTS2 drink 5% less alcohol than those with the common version. This gene is also linked to people with autism and ADHD. Scientists say that this gene plays an important role in how much alcohol people drink and there are also other reasons why people drink alcohol. Scientists looked at donated brain tissue with the gene AUTS2 and how active it was. They found that the higher activity of AUTS2 people had, it was the gene that was linked to lower alcohol consumption. This finding will help treat people who abuse alcohol and show why people consume massive amounts. This gene has something to do with the way people feel when they drink. Some people drink to make themselves feel better after a time of difficulty and hopefully there will be more research done on this gene to help people with alcoholism.
The brain has many functions for the body and it can also influence the way that it can affect the brain. Margit Burmeister, research professor at University of Michigan’s Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute has done research in a genetic link between genetic variations associated with alcoholism, impulsive behavior and a region of the brain involved in craving and anxiety. The results suggest that a gene called “GABRA2” has variations that can aid in risk of alcoholism by influencing impulsive behaviors, at least in part through a portion of the cerebral cortex known as the insula said Margit Burmeister. In this article, the research was done through a study with 449 people, who came from 173 families – 129 of whom had at least one member diagnosed with alcohol dependence or abuse. It shows that the people with the variation of this gene most likely had alcohol dependence symptoms and higher measures of impulsiveness in response to distress, the study found. Stronger associations were found in women than in men. Also, there were other test done to the individuals like fMRI( functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to observe blood flow to the brain. What they discovered from the individuals is that the people with one form of the GABRA2 gene associated with alcoholism showed significantly higher activation in the insula when anticipating rewards and losses than those with other combinations. This higher activation was also related to a greater level of impulsiveness in response to distress.
The association of brain activity and genetic variation should be able to influence a persons behavior. Since the genetic variation affects the brain it seems reasonable that it would have an influence on alcohol dependence and brain activity. However, this study need to do more research with other questions asked to the individuals that they study to get a more better picture to further understand this gene.